Instructors must teach those things the Spirit can testify are true, said Brother David M. McConkie, first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, during BYU Campus Education Week on Aug. 16.
"What is our role as a teacher?" he asked. "To speak with power and authority in the gospel and the Holy Ghost will provide us with power. … We need to reach the members. They have been praying for answers and we need the Spirit of the Lord to help us to know what the class needs. The Lord knows, and He will use you to bless others."
In order to preach the gospel by the Spirit, individuals must speak with power and authority. Much of that power comes from an understanding of the doctrines of the gospel, he said.
"As teachers, we have a responsibility to search, ponder and pray," Brother McConkie said. "We can't teach the gospel unless we understand it. So that's where we have to begin as teachers in the Church of Jesus Christ, and as parents in the Church of Jesus Christ. We have to begin to understand the gospel, and the gospel is found in the scriptures."
Sharing experiences from when he was serving as a stake president, Brother McConkie said that when he had questions, he learned to look to the Church's Handbook of Instruction for the answers. When questions in teaching arise, Brother McConkie counseled, teachers should look to the Lord's "handbook of instruction" — the scriptures.
"Scriptures are His mind, will and voice," he said. "So is it any wonder that the Lord has commanded us to search the scriptures, to ponder these things. Searching implies there are deep and hidden meanings to be found. They aren't on the surface all the time."
The most powerful and effective teaching takes place as the Spirit guides teachers, Brother McConkie said.
"We have to have the Spirit of the Lord with us to help us teach, to help us know what [individuals] need because the Lord knows, and He will answer their prayers through you as you teach," he said. "The same principle applies even more to our families and our children."
It is through teaching with the Spirit — rather than logic, intellect and charisma — that the most effective teaching takes place.
"When the Spirit comes into the lesson it becomes His lesson and not our lesson," he said.
When the Spirit is present, class members feel comforted and instructors know what to do and what words to say, he said.
"If you want to have as a teacher and as a parent the power of God unto the convincing of men the formula is not hard," Brother McConkie said. "We keep the commandments with all our heart, might, mind and strength and then we search the scriptures, we ponder and we pray. And if we will search, if we will keep the commandments, the Lord has promised we will have His Spirit, and His Spirit will give us the power unto the convincing of men."
Teachers must stand as a witness of the things they teach, he said.
"We can stand as an independent witness of the things we are teaching," he declared. "We need to teach those things that the Holy Ghost can testify are true. The Holy Ghost is not going to testify of fluff. The Holy Ghost will testify of those things we teach in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"When we bear our testimonies, we bless the hearts of class members and our children and open that door for the Holy Ghost to teach and testify."