Learning and teaching in the home and Church

Credit: With permission from Sandra Rast

In one of the rooms in the Relief Society Building hang four paintings. The first is a picture of the resurrected Savior with Mary Magdalene. Off to the side reads the purpose of Relief Society, “To prepare women for the blessings of eternal life.”

On the other side of the room are three paintings depicting the supporting purposes of Relief Society. The first is a painting of two sister missionaries tracting in the rain — depicting “increasing our faith in Jesus Christ and our personal righteousness.” The second is a picture of the temple — illustrating “strengthening homes and families.”

The last painting portrays “helping those in need.”

Interestingly, in this final painting, we see a young mother, holding a child, surrounded by several other small children who are obviously hungry and poor. In the background, we can faintly see the Savior pointing out the woman to His disciples.

It is a moving portrayal of “the widow’s mite” that we find in the New Testament. In Mark 12:41-44 we read, “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

As I consider the painting of the “widow’s mite,” I am impressed that the artist portrays a young mother. I have always envisioned an older widow, though there is no indication of her age as we read the story in the scriptures. But as we think about what the young mother is doing, giving two mites, all she has, surrounded by her on-looking hungry children, the lesson becomes poignant as she who has very little gives all she has to help others.

Just think what lessons young children learn from righteous mothers, fathers and other worthy role models and mentors as they observe that kind of deep faith in action. The saying is surely true that “often more is ‘caught’ than ‘taught!’ ”

Think of the power that comes when we not only learn and teach the gospel in our homes and families, but when we actually LIVE it and invite our children to do the same. To me, that is the message of this thought-provoking painting.

The young widow is fully committed to living according to her beliefs, even in the face of adversity. What powerful teaching!

In the 2014 Annual Auxiliary Training, a roundtable discussion with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Bishop Gary E. Stevenson and the general auxiliary presidents centers on improving learning and teaching in the home and in the Church (found online at

This resource for parents and Church leaders stresses the importance of helping all members of the Church learn and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Savior’s way, with an emphasis on inviting children, youth and adults learn and teach by the Spirit and act on promptings and feelings from the Holy Ghost, or in other words, to LIVE the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Every family in the Church, no matter the size or makeup of the family, can benefit from the principles discussed in this resource. It can be used in its entirety or in the smaller segments in family home evenings, in family councils, ward councils, presidency meetings, or in Relief Society first Sunday lessons, additional Relief Society meetings, stake auxiliary meetings, fifth Sunday meetings under the direction of local leaders or in a number of other ways.

The second part of the 2014 Annual Auxiliary Training contains brief outlines, different for each auxiliary, that address specific needs of each auxiliary. The Relief Society outline focuses on ministering in the Savior’s way. It can be used to train leaders and visiting teachers to serve their sisters following the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Ministering one by one is what the Savior did and what we can do as we seek to be more like Him in our loving service to others. We know that like the young widow whom the Lord noticed as she gave her precious “mite,” that our loving ministry in helping others will not go unnoticed by the Lord.

This is His work and we are told in the scriptures that when we do His work in His way, He will be with us on our right hand and on our left and will send angels to bear us up (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).

May we count it a privilege to improve our efforts to learn, teach, live and minister in the Savior’s way. As we do so, the Lord will surely bless our efforts.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed