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Using Stories to Teach about the Priesthood

Heidi McConkie

How can you turn a simple story into a powerful teaching tool?

Imagine this scenario: You join a group of friends who are eagerly digging into lunch and are engrossed in conversation. As you swirl a mouthful of spaghetti onto a plastic fork, your buddy Anton turns to you and asks, “So what makes Mormonism different from other Christian religions?”

As you pause to ponder his question, you feel prompted to share your knowledge of the priesthood. But you’re a little worried because you’re pretty sure that Anton has never heard anything about the priesthood before. You want to help him understand what it means for men to hold God’s power and show him how they use it to serve and bless others. But how do you do it? Well, you might share a story.

Why Use Stories

Stories are a powerful way to teach. That’s one of the reasons the Savior shared parables—simple stories that the people He taught could relate to.

One of the benefits of teaching with stories is that it allows people to learn as much as they are spiritually ready to understand. For example, when Anton asks you about what makes the Church unique, if he is just curious, then your story will help him have a basic knowledge of what the priesthood is. But if he is really interested in learning about the gospel, pondering your story can become fulfilling and spiritually enlightening as he learns on a deeper level about how the priesthood works.

What Stories to Use

The best stories are short and simple. Don’t distract Anton with details that may be interesting but don’t support what you’re trying to teach.

That’s not to say that the story has to be boring. Pick something that Anton will relate to. Suppose he loves to play basketball; he might enjoy a story about a boy who was injured while playing a sport and received a priesthood blessing. A good story like that will not only teach about the priesthood, but it will also capture his interest. The Spirit can guide you in selecting an appropriate story to share.

One of the benefits of teaching with stories is that it allows people to learn as much as they are spiritually ready to understand.

Be careful though. It can be tempting when sharing a story to embellish the details or tell an experience from a friend of a friend that you don’t know is true. Make sure you’re honest in what you share.

Where to Find Stories

Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably a walking, talking collection of priesthood experiences. Have you been baptized and confirmed? Have you performed proxy ordinances in the temple? Have you received a blessing or been set apart for a calling?

It’s a great idea to write down your priesthood experiences as they occur. Later, you can refer back to your journal to find stories to share. Family history is another great resource—your ancestors may have had an experience that you could share. The scriptures and general conference are also great places to find stories. Who could forget about Moses parting the Red Sea? The priesthood makes waves. Literally.

As you collect stories, you’ll feel more prepared when opportunities to share the gospel arise. The Holy Ghost can help you recall what you’ve studied: “For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say” (D&C 100:6).

When to Tell Stories

Sharing your experiences doesn’t have to be scripted. Most of your opportunities to tell others about your experiences—regarding the priesthood or another gospel topic—will come in casual conversation with friends, just like the conversation with Anton.

Click here to read over the June Sunday School lessons on priesthood and priesthood keys.

The Holy Ghost can help you identify teaching moments and guide you to know whether to give a quick answer or to share a story. If you do choose to share a story with someone, be sure to start by providing background information and inviting him or her to look for certain principles. After sharing the story, ask what it means to your listeners instead of telling them. The purpose of sharing an experience isn’t to dominate a conversation or talk about yourself; effective priesthood stories teach others about the Savior and create opportunities for further conversations about the gospel.

Two Great Examples

Now that you know why it’s important to share stories, let’s look at two examples. This story tells of an experience from one young woman’s life. Click on the picture below to read the story.

 

The next story is an example of a short and sweet priesthood experience shared in general conference, which is practically exploding with fantastic stories on all kinds of gospel topics, including the priesthood. Click on the picture below to read the story.

 

Join the Conversation

Things to Ponder for Sunday

  • How has the priesthood blessed your life?
  • What experiences could you share with others to help them better understand the priesthood?

Things You Might Do

  • Write in your journal about an experience you have had that has strengthened your testimony of the priesthood.
  • Share your experience in family home evening, in church, or by clicking on Share your experience below.

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 New Era and Liahona.

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