GCBC Week 22: “Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit” by Brother Matthew O. Richardson

I got to substitute teach the 5-year-olds in Primary today.  It was great.  I love to teach. I love to bear testimony.  I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I’m grateful for the Holy Ghost that makes the message more powerful than the teacher or the delivery.

The Spirit has been an important part of teaching experiences I’ve had with my children, too.  Last week, during all the carpool hours, I had great opportunities to discuss some important principles with my kids.  I could feel the Holy Ghost helping me and helping them.  It gave me the confidence to testify about things I know are true.

Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit by Brother Matthew O. Richardson, 2nd counselor General Sunday School Presidency

“While we are all teachers, we must fully realize that it is the Holy Ghost who is the real teacher and witness of all truth. Those who do not fully understand this either try to take over for the Holy Ghost and do everything themselves, politely invite the Spirit to be with them but only in a supporting role, or believe they are turning all their teaching over to the Spirit when, in truth, they are actually just “winging it.” All parents, leaders, and teachers have the responsibility to teach “by the Spirit.”2 They should not teach “in front of the Spirit” or “behind the Spirit” but “by the Spirit” so the Spirit can teach the truth unrestrained.”

What points stood out to you as you studied this talk?  Share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.

FOUR talks left.  Can you believe it??

To anyone who is checking out GCBC for the first time, the goal is to read one General Conference talk a week and discuss it together as an on-line “book club.” If you want to learn more, go here, and join the discussion here each week.

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19 thoughts on “GCBC Week 22: “Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit” by Brother Matthew O. Richardson

  1. Wow. Couldn’t be more timely. Felt today like the most important thing I can try to teach my primary class this year is to listen to the spirit. Because that is where the lesson always seems to end up no matter what I plan. And I can certainly use improvement too. I need to study this one a bunch.

  2. Love it. Love that moment in every (ok, almost every) FHE or primary lesson when chaos gives way to the feeling of the spirit, even just for a minute. I love being able to tell kids that good feeling is the spirit, and I love it when they say they’ve felt that feeling before. Our 10 year old is new to our family (joined us in December 2010), and took the missionary discussions and was baptized. It was an amazing moment as we continued to focus on that feeling when she realized that feeling has been guiding her many times in her life when it otherwise would have seemed she was alone. When she struggles with church, modesty, etc. and I know nothing I say will make a difference, I can tell her to listen to her heart and pay attention to that feeling, and she always comes back with the right answer. One week she wanted to wear jeans to church and knowing she’s still new at the church thing, and not wanting to impose too many rules, I told her why we dress nicely for church, and said she had to make that decision, but to listen to her heart while she was making the decision. She came out of her room not even 5 minutes later and dressed in a skirt and shirt and told me she was praying and remembered she had to give a scripture in primary that day, so she thought she should wear a skirt. I love how the spirit absolutely magnifies anything we could ever teach our children.

  3. What struck me is that Elder Richardson said that even children are teachers. I need to be better at helping my children prepare family home evening lessons. Instead of winging it, I took out my calendar last night and assigned nights to teach and assigned each month an attribute of Christ for us to focus on (I used the Preach My Gospel manual.) Now to follow through…
    I also appreciated the idea that we need to teach after the manner of the Spirit. I’m focusing on becoming more fluent in the language of the Spirit this year and this will add a new aspect to my study. It will be challenging to implement what I learn as I teach my sweet and active sunbeams!

  4. I loved this talk during conference. I love feeling the Holy Ghost confirm to me the truth of all of these things. One thing that has struck me lately is how much more of my conversation and teachings need to relate back to our Savior and the Atonement. I want my children to understand and have a strong testimony of the atonement. That every gospel truth relates back to Gethsemane and that He rose again.

  5. Steph, this is such a fabulous talk, and I’m so thankful that you are doing this and that I’m beginning to be more faithful about coming here! :D THANK YOU!

    I have a very firm – unshakable – testimony of Jesus Christ and his teachings. I KNOW the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. And more than anything I want ALL my children to know that ALL of his teachings are true. I also value, values – but am unsure of how much each of my children to value values. As these things came to mind as I listened to this talk I began to feel incredibly overwhelmed at what a huge task I have before me, to LEARN HOW to teach BY the spirit and to teach my children to VALUE VALUES.

    As soon as these feelings of being overwhelmed came over me Brother Christensen immediately admonished us not to be overwhelmed and addressed his confidence in us that we can learn to lead after the manner of the spirit. Of course, I cried. This was only just a few minutes ago so I have yet to pray about these things, but I thought it would be good to paraphrase one of Brother Richardson’s questions to anyone who may read this here:

    *How do I invite and help my children to VALUE gospel doctrines and principles? How do I help them to UNDERSTAND and LIVE gospel doctrines?

    Any insight? It would be so cool if several people answered this question here!

  6. This talk was timely for me as I have a teaching calling at church and have been thinking lots lately about how well I am doing at teaching my kids the gospel. I loved that he pointed out the way the Spirit teaches and how we can learn to teach in the same way.

    I also loved the “winging it” comment. I lived in a stake once where they were stressing teaching by the Spirit, including in Sacrament meeting talks. I believe in this principle, but most of the people took this to mean that they didn’t need to do anything to prepare in advance. It showed as they rambled on and on without any point or purpose. Teaching by the Spirit most certainly includes preparation–and the willingness to abandon that if necessary when the Spirit directs.

    • Jan, I love what you added here… I have never heard of such a thing happening! When I strive to teach by the spirit I prepare more than ever, knowing that I must study and learn so there is something there for the Holy Ghost to bring to my remembrance! And then there is the fact that I must be in tune so I can feel and hear his guidance. I am so thankful for this talk and reminder because I think I have been trying to teach EVERYTHING rather than listening to the spirit and teaching my children the simple truths that they are currently ready for (which, I may not always be as aware of as the Holy Spirit ;0).
      Thanks for your comment…
      Corine :D

  7. This talk was one of my favorites when I heard it the first time and I really enjoyed studying it again.

    The concept of real – real missionaries, real members of the church, real teaching, real learning – resonated with me.

    One thing I thought of as I read it this time is of teachers I have had that I feel exemplified teaching by the spirit. I am in an institute class for young mothers right now that is just amazing. The teacher of the class does this so well. One thing she does is encourage every member of the class to participate, she gives us lots of opportunities to vocalize our thoughts and I’ve found that the spirit really bears witness strongly when I hear but perhaps even more lastingly when I speak. She’s done this through something as simple as having us all read a scripture out loud together. She also will ask a question then often have us read a scripture but then she asks us to make the connections. She asks questions like “tell me more…” or “talk a little about…”

    At the moment I am reading the Book of Mormon searching for “joy” and “happiness”. This talk makes me want to go through it the next time searching for the way the Holy Ghost teaches. It seems that could be a great study opportunity to search the scriptures for ways the spirit teaches and examples of that teaching.

  8. Yesterday we received an email from our son with the following question: “We want to teach [our 8 month old daughter] three concepts starting now: obedience, patience, and kindness. Any tips for getting through to a young, yet very smart and perceptive little person?” My husband suggested that would be a great FHE topic, so we discussed it last night. It was great reviewing Brother Richardson’s talk as part of my preparation. We really do need the Spirit with us when we’re teaching, whether it’s at home or at church, or even in a conversation in the grocery store.

    Everything Brother Richardson said rang true, but I particularly liked this statement: Parents, leaders, and teachers who mirror how the Spirit teaches learn quickly that real teaching involves much more than just talking and telling. As a result, they intentionally pause to listen, carefully observe, and then discern what to do next.

    We’re grateful that our son wants to be an intentional teacher. And you can go to this blog post if you want to read our reply to his question.

  9. I have been reading and thinking about it a bunch. I really appreciate the opportunity to ponder it and dwell on it. His two big points about teaching by the spirit are that it teaches in a personal way and that it teaches by inspiring and inviting us to act. I have tried to get to know my primary class and love them and I have tried to send home small assignments like memorizing a small scripture with them. I am trying to see how I can improve on those things.

    It has been a nice read to think about because I do prefer to have everything all laid out and prepared but I am getting better at being flexible and following those small promptings in the lesson. I thought maybe I was a slacker taking all week to prepare my lessons but now I think maybe I need to start thinking about them more than a week in advance and that its okay and even appropriate to just read it and think about it and ponder on it for a while.

    As for my own kids, I am trying to share any small thoughts that come to mind while we read scriptures. Definitions, small stories, songs… to make it small devotionals and to help them learn from what we are reading more. I think that is what he is saying.

    I can definitely improve on FHE preparation. That is more of a quick decision and fast lesson grabbing thing. So I’m working on it.

    I feel like I have tried all the methods he lists – teaching everything I know about a topic, covering everything in the manual, winging it, and have arrived at the point of preparation and seeking the guidance of the spirit in that preparation and in the lesson.

    What a great talk! :D

    • I think we shortchange our families. If we have a talk or lesson at church we spend a week or more on preparing but FHE is usually grab and go. Why is it when we will be spending eternity with our family we don’t prepare as much? I know the spirit helps me at times but it could be sooo much better.

  10. This talk was a tender mercy at the time it was given and another one that you posted it this week. In addition to his talk of teaching, I love his allegory of the mountain climb–looking first how far we’ve come instead of the incline in front of us. Seeking heavenly perspective seems key in being able to feel and teach by the Spirit. I also loved how he said we get out of the way and let the Spirit do His job.

  11. a few phrases stuck out to me….
    “The Holy Ghost teaches what we must know and do so that we may become what we must be.” I just like the way he stated this.
    I also liked that he said we must understand that we “teach people, not lessons.” It is very easy to get caught up in the lesson and forget about those you are teaching.
    And last I liked his analogy of climbing the mountain. He used several action words like “synchronized” and “achieved a rhythm.” How would it be if we could all be synchronized and in rhythm with the Holy Ghost.

  12. This talk has inspired me to search out ways the Holy Ghost teaches. I loved what Brother Richardson taught us about teaching in a personal way, and teaching by inviting, prompting, encouraging, and inspiring us to act… and I am excited to learn about more ways.

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