Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson says Church members must ‘live what we are learning’

In each of the auxiliaries of the Church we are being invited to change the way we are teaching and learning in our classes and quorums. We are receiving exciting reports from Relief Societies and priesthood quorums where brothers and sisters are counseling together about the work within their local units in first Sunday meetings. We are being encouraged to “plan ways to act on impressions received from the Spirit” during those discussions (online instruction for “First-Sunday Council Meetings”).

Our youth have been engaged in this learning pattern as part of the youth “Come, Follow Me” curriculum for several years. Because of the curriculum’s “Share, Learn, Live” outline, we see youth regularly sharing testimonies with one another and engaging in lively gospel discussions with classmates. They are reading and studying together the scriptures and talks from our living apostles and prophets. We see youth who are better prepared to be missionaries and who are eager and articulate when it comes to joining in gospel conversations with their peers.

The last section of the “Come, Follow Me” outline, however, can be the easiest to neglect because often the discussion goes on a little long, we run out of time, or we are not sure what is expected. This final portion of the lesson is the “Live what you are learning” or the “Invite to act” segment, and it has the potential to be the part of the lesson that has the greatest impact on our youth.

Imagine this situation: A Laurel class has just engaged in a Spirit-filled discussion about what it means to take upon themselves the name of Christ. They have read scriptures together, watched a short video, and then examined and discussed portions of a talk by an apostle. There have been several “Aha! moments” where the Spirit has been present and felt by all in the room, and the person leading the discussion has born powerful testimony about the importance of taking upon us the name of Christ.

How should a wonderful class time such as this end? Do we just say a closing prayer, leave the room and go home? How can we encourage those in the room to make changes in their lives as a result of what they have learned and felt?

The “Live what you are learning” section at the end of a discussion is the critical part of the pattern for changing behavior and increasing conversion to gospel principles. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has often been heard to ask at the end of a discussion, “What did you just hear that wasn’t spoken?” In other words, what did the Spirit whisper into your mind and heart about what you can do to better live this gospel principle? It may not have been something that was spoken out loud in the discussion, but it was what the learner felt within his or her own heart. The answer may be different for each person in the room.

At times, the “Live what you are learning” portion will include a teacher giving the youth a challenge or a goal to work on — the same goal for everyone. There can certainly be some value in this approach, and doing that is better than leaving the room having no discussion or determination at all about living the principles discussed. But how much more meaningful would it be for a teacher to ask class members to ponder what they were personally taught by the Spirit in that lesson and what they individually felt inspired to do as a result? Perhaps some could be invited to share their thoughts, and they could be reminded that at the beginning of the next week’s lesson, they will have a chance to share their experiences.

Elder Bednar once instructed a group of people at a devotional, “not to write down anything I will say, but … pay particular attention to and note the thoughts that will come to your mind and the feelings that will come to your heart. … So listening to me is not important, but paying attention to the promptings of the Holy Ghost is very important” (“Teach Them to Understand,” Ricks College Campus Education Week Devotional, June 4, 1998).

A leader’s invitation to act on promptings can foster changes in behavior and an increased determination to live gospel principles.

This critical and important part of each “Come, Follow Me” lesson requires a teacher to be careful to leave enough time at the end so class members aren’t rushed and hurried in this important process. It can be effective to turn this portion over to a member of the class or quorum presidency to lead. There is tremendous power in peers sharing their thoughts and encouraging others to decide how to act.

We are taught in the scriptures that the Holy Ghost “will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:5). Taking those few precious minutes at the end of each lesson to ponder what the Spirit has taught us and writing it down can be the most important part of that day’s class. It is when real change begins to take place in the hearts and lives of class members.