Updated: Feb 15, 2022
When I sat down to start working on this outline, probably for the first time ever, I was not nervous about this topic, which I probably should have been more nervous. The first thing that I wanted to share with you is how much the Lord loves each of you.
The topic that Brother Puffer asked me to speak on was teaching children the gospel. And before half of you tune out to the talk, I do want to say it is a group effort. Sister Young, who was the general Primary President in the 1980s said,
"Now you might say I'm not a parent. I don't teach children. Actually we are all teachers and children. Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, priesthood figures, ward members, neighbors. Children are always watching and learning. We teach them throughout our behavior as well as by what we say.
They watch how we treat each other. They listen to the voices of their parents and the voices at Church. We must teach them at an early age to listen to the right voices."
And I stand as a personal witness of that. My parents are both converts and my mom stopped going to Church when I was a little kid.
So it was just me and my dad. And lucky for me, rebelling as a teenager meant going to Church. And I'm really grateful for that. Raising me was a collective effort. It was primary teachers and showing love.
It was Bishops showing encouragement. It was young women leaders and following up and just really pulling me along and encouraging me.
We've been in this ward (congregation) now for 8 years now and I've seen the impact that some of you have had on my own children.
First, why do we need to teach our children?
I think this is probably the most obvious.
Honestly, when I first thought through this question I thought, "Well, we're commanded to." But it really has to be more than that if we are going to convert one another to the gospel. In Luke, chapter 2, verse 52, it reads, "Jesus increased the wisdom in stature in a favor with God and man."
He really set the patterns he came and lived a sinless life but he had to learn, he had to grow. And that's what we're here to do, too.
The points that Sister Young made in her talk were:
Children want to be taught, they want to be at your side. They want to learn everything.
They understand the whispering of the spirit.
They're probably more aware and more keen at that than we are. We have so much going on. Being with your children in Primary you can feel it, you can see how much they know and how capable they are.
The 3rd point was they can have a great influence for good. She talked about how a daughter influenced her parents, and they ended up getting sealed as a family.
We, as parents, are commanded to teach their children gospel principles, which can be overwhelming.
I think that was the most significant point as it makes a difference in their lives. When they learn gospel truths, they build a reservoir of strength to draw from throughout their lives.
For those of you who were here on the 26 December, Sister Nelson said that she had learned the gospel truth as a child from primary. And as I thought about my own life, while my dad was still learning himself, he would kneel at the couch and he would pray every day. And then he would study the scriptures - and this was hard for him. He moved through those scriptures slowly, but he did it every single night.
He had a devotion to the Lord and he loved me.
Sister Jones, who was most recently the general primary President, said, "When we strengthen a child, we strengthen the family."
How do we teach them?
The first thing I think I have learned as a parent and now as a primary President is that we have to prepare ourselves.
If we are prepared, we have won half the battle. And even if everything goes completely wrong, which it will sometimes, we will have the Spirit to guide us.
Prioritizing our own relationship with the Lord is where teaching begins. He is the one who's going to guide us. He's going to guide us for our own children, what they need to learn and what they need to hear.
When we first moved into ward (congregation) and began inviting wiser sisters to come to temple with me. And one sisters gave some great advice. She said to focus on teaching my children to recognize and to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
And now with President Nelson's increased focus on personal revelation, I know that she had it right. In the Come follow Me manual faith is at the very beginning. It says, "The gospel learning that leads to conversion requires the influence of a Holy Ghost."
The Holy Ghost guides to the truth and bear's witness of that truth. He enlightens our mind, quickens our understanding and touches our hearts with revelation from God, the source of all truth. The Holy Ghost purifies our hearts. He inspires us a desire to live truth. And he whispers best ways to do this.
Truly, the Holy Ghost shall teach us all things.
The Church doesn't exist for a lot of the social aspects, though those are wonderful, really the purpose that we're here, probably the reason you're all sitting in the pews today is you have felt the Lord's love and you have been converted, that you have a testimony.
And that is what it's going to help us weather all the storms. It's a little bit crazy out there right now. And being able to know the source of truth and the past light guide you is such a comforting thing and help keep the perspective our eternal perspective in our focus.
Sister Jones said, "being intentional and loving teaching and testifying to help children begin at a young age to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is essential to our children's testimony and conversion to Jesus Christ."
The Savior would have helped children to their trust in that Spirit, which leads us to do good to do so we can assist children recognizing when they are feeling in the spirit and discerning what actions cause the spirit to leave.
Thus we learn to repent and return to the light through the atonement of Jesus Christ that has helped us encourage His spiritual resilience.
It's working with the Lord. It's figuring out what he needs us to do, and only he can know. He is the only one who knows what's coming. He's the only one who knows what talents we need to develop, what strengths that we need to have and also what failures we need to have in the safety of our own homes, with parents and leaders who are there to help pick us up. And I think the last part of that is the reflection.
I just want you to know that you are loved. And as you draw closer to Him and your own relationship is strengthened and your testimony grown and you're converted.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.