Primary general presidency: Simple gospel truths

As a Primary general presidency, we hold children and families close to our hearts. Our love for children has expanded and our eyes are drawn to them wherever we go —in congregations, at church, in the airports and at the grocery store.

As we observe parents, grandparents and teachers ministering to the needs of children, we remember the words of Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Clearly, those of us who have been entrusted with precious children have been given a sacred, noble stewardship, for we are the ones God has appointed to encircle today’s children with love and the fire of faith and an understanding of who they are” (“Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,” Ensign, April 1994).

What do we teach our children?

The Lord has directed, “Bring up your children in light and truth” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:40). We are to teach our children to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost … to pray and to walk uprightly before the Lord … observe the Sabbath Day to keep it holy … to work and not be idle, and to seek the riches of eternity (see Doctrine and Covenants 68: 25-31).

Children are drawn to the plain and simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and are far more capable than we think to comprehend them.

A little 3-year-old girl exclaimed with excitement to her friend one day, “Did you know that the greatest gift that we can get is eternal life!” She could hardly wait to share that newfound truth that she had learned from her Primary teacher.

When we teach children plain and simple truths in a way that they can understand, we not only build a foundation for their testimony, but those very truths influence their behavior.

President Boyd K. Packer taught, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior” (“Little Children,” Ensign, November 1986).

How do we teach in Primary and in the home?

As parents and teachers, we must watch for and take advantage of spontaneous teaching moments as well as intentional planned occasions to teach eternal truths. A most common question children ask is, “Why?” That is when we seize the opportunity to open the door to understanding and give our undivided attention to discuss that question.

Elder Ballard taught, “Creative, innovative sharing times and [other] activities can be stimulating and fun, but they don’t mean much if the children … come away having been entertained but not really enlightened, taught the gospel, or lifted spiritually” (“Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,” Ensign, April 1994).

The world is influencing even our very young children today. The current moral and social issues are also a part of our children’s conversation at school and on the playground. The doctrinal truths learned at home give them a firm platform to stand on. One mother chose a theme from “For The Strength of Youth” and “Gospel Topics” to create a simplified discussion with her children each week for family home evening.

We help children learn and live simple gospel truths by:

• Being a living testimony of the doctrine we want our children to understand

• Taking them to the scriptures and teachings of latter-day prophets to learn truth for themselves

• Helping our children liken and apply the doctrinal principles realistically in their own lives

In John F. MacAuthur’s book, Reckless Faith, he writes, “Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing. Then when they see the bogus money they recognize it.”

So it is with our children. When the doctrine of the gospel is understood and settled deep in their hearts, they will be able to discern what is truth, and the false teachings of the world will become obvious.

As our children learn to understand gospel doctrines, they become more self-reliant and more responsible. They become part of the solution to our family challenges and more resilient to worldly temptations. Those simple truths embedded in their hearts will allow them to see clearly who they are and will fan the fire of their faith.

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