President Heber J. Grant is a man worth emulating, said Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander. The seventh president of the Church is a man who "dealt with real problems, who persevered despite criticism. His life is wonderfully incredible."
"But if members don't study the manual, Teachings of Presidents of the Church, they will miss that spirit," he said.
Elder Neuenschwander of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the Curriculum Department introduced this year's course of study for Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and the Relief Society by emphasizing that members will grow in spirit and character if they will plumb the depths of President Grant's teachings and avoid supplementing teaching materials from secondary sources.
"I love reading about President Grant because of his sheer desire to overcome what he perceived were inabilities in his life," Elder Neuenschwander said in an interview with Church News. "He wanted to develop more talents than he was naturally blessed with. In Heber J. Grant, we come away feeling, 'I can do that.' "
Aware that some auxiliary and quorum teachers take confidence in quoting observations of others above their own ability to gain spiritual insights, Elder Neuenschwander encouraged teachers to ponder, pray and make their own effort to understand.
"The prophets are clear in emphasizing that we should stand on our own testimony," he said. "The Holy Ghost comes as easily to you and me as to anyone else.
"Our focus should be on applying the teachings of the Latter-day prophets," he said, explaining that the curriculum of the Church is based on the scriptures and the teachings of modern-day prophets.
"All the teachings of the Church settle squarely on these two pillars," he said.
For teachers who feel they need to prime their thoughts with additional study, Elder Neuenschwander recommended studying the supportive material published month in the Ensign, Liahona and the Friend.
Church magazines will provide a wealth of material for personal and family edification, said David Marsh, manager of core curriculum in the Curriculum Department.
Now in the seventh year of studying the lives and teachings of the modern-day prophets, members around the world are building a small library of quotes and anecdotal material that has been Church prepared and cross-checked for accuracy.
"Members can trust that the teachings and experiences of each prophet are accurate," continued Brother Marsh.
"You will search in vain to find the name of a writer or editor of this manual," Elder Neuenschwander said. "The preparation of this manual is a service of love and dedication by a writing committee composed of people who are not professional historians, but come from every walk of life, like housewives, school teachers, attorneys. They worked selflessly," he said.
Watching the writing committee struggle to understand a prophet's teachings is to watch the hand of the Lord in the preparation of the manual, Brother Marsh added.
"You watch as it comes together and there is a spirit of peace that it is right. You see a power guiding this effort," he said.
Throughout this organizational process, the First Presidency and Quourm of the Twelve were involved in the review and editing of the manual.
The challenge facing members is to "become acquainted with the prophets of our time," said Elder Neuenschwander. "Be ready and anxious to learn," he said, encouraging members to be active students of the gospel.
"Everyone should love the words of the prophets," he said.