On Teaching by The Spirit
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This talk suggests that gospel teachers are like matchmakers--helping students to develop a relationship with The Spirit. Given on 15 April 2012 in the Sacrament Meeting of the Sterling Park Ward, Ashburn, VA Stake.
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On Teaching by The Spirit
A Talk Given in Sacrament Meeting
in the Sterling Park Ward
of the Ashburn, VA Stake
By D. Calvin Andrus
15 April 2011, Version 1.0
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Good morning, brothers and sisters.
There are times in my life when I feel like I don't quite measure up. Do you ever feel like that? We know we can be better but just aren't? Like, we did get all our home or visiting teaching done. We yelled at the kids. We ate too much ice cream. We had a bad attitude about serving in the church. Does any of this sound familiar? Of course it does. And I have a solution for you. One that works for me every time. It is called "Reality TV!"
Reality TV Show
One particular reality TV show stars a high society matchmaker. She finds millionaire men who are not married and matches them with very pretty young women. The show arranges for exotic dates. After a few minutes of watching the show, it becomes apparent why these men are not married. Their personalities got stuck in middle school. They are very socially inept. You can also tell the young women have been pretty their whole lives. They are fussy, high maintenance, and appearance-focused--both social and physical appearance. It is a show about loser millionaires and gold-digger women. We keep hoping something good will happen by the end of the show, but it almost never does.
Every time I happen to come across this show, I start to feel better about myself within just a couple of minutes. I am so much better than the losers in that show. These shows allow me to feel "morally superior." I think that is the reason they are so popular. Most people in America can watch those shows and feel morally superior to the people in those shows.
So let's look a little deeper about the formula for the show. The four ingredients on the show are 1) the man, 2) the woman, 3) the matchmaker, and 4) the date. The matchmaker claims to really understand both people and can engineer the perfect date to get these two people to fall in love on camera. It is a simple formula -- put these four ingredients into a bowl, stir, and out pops a couple we a great romantic relationship.
We have to wonder why the producers don't fire the matchmaker, because she never succeeds in putting together a good relationship. Oh, wait a minute, maybe that is why the keep her on. She purposefully puts people together she knows won't connect. We viewers love to see the participants crash and burn. This show is not showing us a recipe for success, but rather a recipe for disaster.
Teaching in the Church
So, I know you are asking, how a reality TV matchmaking show is like teaching in church? Frankly, I've been wondering that myself!
In a church teaching situation we have similar ingredients. Instead of a matchmaker, we have a teacher. Who is the teacher trying to match together? The students on the one hand and the Spirit on the other. Instead of creating a date to foster the relationship we give a lesson. Teacher uses the lesson to help the students improve their relationship with The Spirit.
So, as a teacher, our job is to 1) know our students well enough to understand what will hold their attention and how they are susceptible to the Spirit; 2) it is also our job to know The Spirit well enough to understand the circumstances under which He touches people; 3)then, knowing both the students and The Spirit, the teacher can design a lesson that will allow improvement in the relationship the students have with The Spirit. Does this make sense? The teacher is the good matchmaker. The teacher has the best interests of the student at heart. The teacher knows how to build a relationship with The Spirit. The teacher uses the lesson to help the student and Holy Ghost to make a serious connection.
(if enough time)
In reality TV, they try to design a date that will enhance relationship building. The dates are exotic but generally don't work. We are fortunate in the church to have lesson material, while not so exotic, does in fact work. The subject matter works in our favor. Teaching gospel principles, especially from the scriptures and the modern prophets, is naturally designed to give the teacher a head start advantage in helping the student-Spirit relationship work.
Let me conclude by reading a portion of a talk that Matthew O. Richardson gave in the October 2011 General Conference. He said,
Moroni helps us understand how we can teach by The Spirit without replacing, diluting, or dismissing the Holy Ghost as the real teacher. Moroni said the Saints conducted their experiences [quote] "after the manner of the workings of The Spirit." [unquote] This requires more than just having The Spirit with us. To conduct ourselves "after the manner" of The Holy Ghost means that we may need to change our way of teaching to emulate the way the Holy Ghost teaches. As we align our manner with The Holy Ghost's manner, then the Holy Ghost can teach and testify without restraint.
To this I add my witness. Over the years, our family has had the great blessing to have been taught by the wonderful teachers in this ward; teacher, who brought The Spirit into our lives. We are profoundly grateful. I know teaching by The Spirit works. It is an ongoing blessing in my life.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.