I was born into a musically talented family. When I was four, I performed for the first time with them. I believe it was for our ward talent show. We wore white ruffled shirts, with red bow ties, red pants, and red sequin suspenders. We sang “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” from Annie. It was the first of many performances. I absolutely loved singing with my family. When I was in sixth grade, I auditioned to perform my first solo at school. Even though I had performed many times before, I was a nervous wreck. The reason for that was because, I was born hard of hearing and singing on my own was frightening. My nerves got the better of me and the solo was a wreck. Those watching me laughed and I cried. As a result of that experience I developed a bit of stage fright and really struggled to sing. A few years later, I was coaxed into taking a theatre class in high school. My teacher, was named Mr. Best. He showed a confidence in me that most others had not shown. I felt inspired to audition for a musical and he cast me as the lead. I was not the best in that first show. In fact, my parents were in the front of the audience and they could hardly hear me. But, my teacher continued to teach me and encourage me to get better. By the end of high school, I was comfortable singing on my own and was often performing solos around our area. Mr. Best taught me to develop a talent in spite of the challenges I had, and I am forever grateful to him for having faith in me.
A teacher is generally someone who informs us in a subject or skill. They might show us how something is done. They encourage us to accept something as fact or truth. Sometimes they instruct us by their example. And at other times, they help us to learn something by giving us experiences, just as my teacher did for me.
We all have had and will have many teachers in our lives. For many of us, there are teachers who leave a lasting impression on us. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS)*, we have access to the greatest teacher, who can have an eternally lasting impression on us. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:26 we read, “God shall give unto you knowledge … by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost”. Likewise, David A. Bednar said, the Holy Ghost is, “the ultimate teacher from whom we should learn.” (David A. Bednar, “Receive the Holy Ghost”, October 2010) Through the power of the Holy Ghost, God teaches us. Isn’t that amazing? In his role of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is able to teach us anywhere, anytime, anything. In fact, in Moroni 10:5 we learn that, “by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things.” Because the Holy Ghost, is a member of the Godhead and is one with God the Father and the Son, learning from Him, is as if we were sitting at the feet of our Savior, or our Father in Heaven right now, or at any moment in time.
(*NOTE: “All honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, leading them to Jesus Christ and His gospel. However, the fulness of the blessings given through the Holy Ghost are available only to those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and remain worthy.” –lds.org Gospel Topics)
The Holy Ghost is like no other teacher, because He has the power to do things we cannot even begin to understand, but I’m going to share briefly about a few of the more general ways that the Holy Ghost teaches us. First, the Holy Ghost is able to give us information about any subject or skill we could possibly be interested in. A perfect example of this is given to us in the book of 1 Nephi. Nephi’s father Lehi, had told his family of a vision he had, and Nephi desired to know more. Nephi was blessed to have a vision as well. In 1 Nephi 11:1-3 we read:
1 For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.
2 And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou?
3 And I said: I desire to behold the things which my father saw.
The spirit went on to have a conversation with Nephi, where He asked Nephi questions and then showed Nephi the things He desired to know. Continuing in verses 9 to 11, it says:
9 And it came to pass after I had seen the tree, I said unto the Spirit: I behold thou hast shown unto me the tree which is precious above all.
10 And he said unto me: What desirest thou?
11 And I said unto him: To know the interpretation thereof—for I spake unto him as a man speaketh; for I beheld that he was in the form of a man; yet nevertheless, I knew that it was the Spirit of the Lord; and he spake unto me as a man speaketh with another.
Nephi was taught by the Spirit, many things about life, the plan of salvation, the life and mission of the Savior, the future of his own people, and much more. This is a profound example of the teaching of the Spirit, and we are not always going to have grand visions of our own to learn from, but we all can be learning from the spirit in small and simple ways.
Second, the Holy Ghost can show us how something is done. I have a friend who quilts. She shared an experience with me several years ago, where she had been asked to make a quilt, but she ran into a problem in the middle of the project. She had researched a lot and was feeling stumped as to how to make it work. Her time was running out, and she could not figure it out on her own. Then she decided to go serve in the temple with a prayer in her heart for a help. After she returned home, the spirit revealed to her exactly how to finish the quilt. In faith, she followed the directions of the spirit and it worked perfectly. I love this example, because it teaches me that while the Holy Ghost teaches us spiritual things, He can also teach us things that are more of this world.
Third, the Holy Ghost encourages us to accept things as truth. David A. Bednar once said, “Testimony is personal knowledge, based upon the witness of the Holy Ghost, that certain facts of eternal significance are true. The Holy Ghost is the messenger for the Father and the Son and the teacher of and guide to all truth (see John 14:26, 16:13) Thus, “by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5).” (“Watching with All Perserverance”, April 2010)
In the world, there are many claiming to have truth to share with us. We have so much information, so readily available at every turn, and it can be really hard to know what is true. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The Holy Ghost is the Testifier of Truth, who can teach men things they cannot teach one another.” (“The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”, October 1986) The source which we all can and should trust, is the Holy Ghost. If ever there is a question of truth, we can turn to the teachings of the spirit. I know that personally, I have depended on this greatly, especially as I was attending college. Some professors wanted to teach their personal beliefs as fact, but with the spirit as my guide, I was able to recognize those things that were false, and have truth revealed to me on several occasions.
The Holy Ghost has the power to show us all truth, but most importantly, He will teach us truth of the gospel. In 2010, Jay E. Jensen, of the Presidency of the Seventy said of the Holy Ghost, “He knows all things. He has several important roles; foremost among them is to teach and testify of the Father and the Son” (“The Holy Ghost and Revelation“, October 2010) When you read about the Holy Ghost in the gospel topics of the LDS church website, it says, “[the Holy Ghost] “witnesses of the Father and the Son” (2 Nephi 31:18) … We can receive a sure testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only by the power of the Holy Ghost. His communication to our spirit carries far more certainty than any communication we can receive through our natural senses.”
For me, one of the most personal ways, that the Holy Ghost teaches me true principles, is through music. When I am willing to really think about the words of a song I am singing, or listening to, I am often touched by the spirit and the message seems to make sense, as if I have known it all along. Elder Glenn L. Pace, of the Seventy, spoke on the spirit bringing things to our remembrance when he said, “Sometimes the feeling is like a memory. We first learned the gospel in our heavenly home. We have come to this earth with a veil of forgetfulness. And yet lingering in each of our spirits are those dormant memories. The Holy Ghost can part the veil and bring those things out of their dormancy. Often my reaction to a supposedly newfound truth is, “Oh, I remember that!” (“Do You Know?”, April 2007)” We sing the words, “I know my Father lives and loves me too. The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me it is true, And tells me it is true. He sent me here to earth, by faith to live his plan. The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me that I can, And tells me that I can.” (“I Know My Father Lives”, Text and music: Reid N. Nibley, 1923-2008. (c) 1969 IRI) Our hymns are a great tool for the spirit to teach us many wonderful truths.
I have been blessed with the gift of the spirit, to believe upon the words of others. I don’t tend to question the things that the scriptures or our church leaders say. But in all these things, I have to rely on the spirit’s teachings in order to gain my testimony of them. I have been given a powerful assurance, by the spirit, that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are real. I know this is true. They are there for us. They love us.
Forth, the Holy Ghost teaches us through His example. Among many other things he shows us, we can learn how to teach, and then learn from teaching, by following His example. The Holy Ghost teaches us individually in ways that are personal. We can follow this example in how we teach others, and the more personal we make a lesson, the more opportunities we will have to learn from the spirit ourselves. He teaches us “line upon line”, as it says in 2 Nephi 28:30. When we teach basic principles and allow others to learn according to their understanding, rather then jumping into deep doctrine right away, all can edified and uplifted from one another. He teaches us with love and gentle persuasion, allowing us to choose for ourselves how we will act. When we teach others this way, we can witness true and lasting conversion, and perhaps learn for ourselves how important it is to listen to the gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Teaching others, as the spirit teaches us, is effective, and I when I choose to follow His example, I am amazed at how much I learn from teaching.
Finally, the Holy Ghost teaches us by giving us experiences to learn from. In 2011, Matthew O. Richardson, the Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency taught, “the Holy Ghost teaches by inviting, prompting, encouraging, and inspiring us to act. Christ assured us that we come to the truth when we live doctrine and act accordingly. [See John 7:17] The Spirit leads, guides, and shows us what to do. [See 2 Nephi 32:1–5] He will not, however, do for us what only we can do for ourselves. You see, the Holy Ghost cannot learn for us, feel for us, or act for us because this would be contrary to the doctrine of agency. He can facilitate opportunities and invite us to learn, feel, and act.” (“Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit”, October 2011) Several years ago, the spirit prompted me to use my skills on the computer and my desire to study the scriptures more, to create this study blog. Since then, the spirit has continued to inspire me and encourage me in this endeavor. I cannot begin to count the number of times, that following this prompting has helped me to learn, gain deeper understanding, and strengthen my testimony of the gospel. It has been a huge blessing in my life.
Of course these are only a few of the ways the Holy Ghost teaches us. Knowing the ways he teaches us is great, but more importantly, we have the responsibility to be open to his teachings. Our family reads conferences talks every Sunday and we choose a challenge to help us practice the principles taught. A few weeks ago, the talk we read was directed mainly at the role of parents to lead, guide and walk beside. As we talked about our challenge, we discussed the important role of children to allow parents to do their part, so our challenge became to “lead, guide, walk beside, and to be led, guided, and walked bedsided.” This applies so well to our relationship with the Holy Ghost as our teacher. He can only teach us, if we allow Him to do so.
I was reflecting last week on some of the things that being hard of hearing requires of me. In particular, I have to try harder in order to hear or understand. If possible, I will sit in the front of any class or meeting. I rely heavily on reading lips, so I am often seen turning in Sunday School, to look at someone who is speaking. Often times during prayers, I will turn my head, so that my better ear is towards the person praying. It can take a great deal of effort for me, but I do it, because I want to hear. Thinking about this effort, I realized that I need to make sure I am making greater effort to allow the spirit to teach me. We all need to be making this effort, or we are not accepting the spirit as a teacher in our lives. We need to seek for his guidance. Turning ourselves towards his voice. We need to be giving greater opportunities for His teaching, by doing our daily prayers and scripture study. We need to be listening to the kind of music that would invite the spirit to inspire, uplift and teach us. We need to go to Sacrament each week and renew our covenants, so that we can maintain the promise of having the spirit with us at all times. We need to listen to talks and attend our lessons with the intent to learn from them. This is why we go to church. We go to partake of the Sacrament, so that we can have the blessing of the spirit with us, and to seek instruction by the Holy Ghost through the talks and lessons we give and hear.
When we are able, we need to attend the temple and try harder to listen there. We need to be pondering more. We should be seeking for gifts and practicing those we have, and accepting opportunities to teach others more. When we recognize a prompting, we need to follow it, even if it may not be what we think we want or need in our lives. John Taylor told of an experience he had. He said, “I remember Joseph Smith speaking to me… Says he: “Brother Taylor, you have received the Holy Ghost. Now follow its teachings and instructions. Sometimes it may lead you in a manner that may be contrary almost to your judgment; never mind, follow its teachings, and if you do so, by and by it will become in you a principle of revelation, so that you will know all things as they transpire.” (Journal of Discourses 14:356. “Continued Revelation”. John Taylor, March 17, 1872.)” This is the opportunity we all have.
I am amazed that God loves us so much, that He would give us constant access to a being that can teach us all things. I know that without the Holy Ghost, we cannot develop a true and lasting testimony of anything. I am so grateful to Him for all that I know now and for the countless things He will continue to teach me, if I will have a willing heart and mind. I hope that each of us can seek for the teachings of the spirit to be in greater abundance in our lives. In the words of another sweet hymn, “Children, God delights to teach you By his Holy Spirit’s voice. Quickly heed its holy promptings. Day by day you’ll then rejoice.” (“Dearest Children, God is Near You”, Text: Charles L. Walker, 1832-1904.)