Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we teach the children as Jesus Christ would teach them. The instructor in my Book of Mormon class shared the following insights into how the Savior teaches children. The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ contains two very poignant examples of Christ teaching children during His visit with the Nephites.
The first example is found in 3 Nephi 17 where Christ commands that the little children be brought forward and waited until all of them were around Him. “… and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them” (3 Nephi 17:21). A little later in the chapter we are told that “angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them” (3 Nephi 17:24).
The second example is found in 3 Nephi 26:14: “And it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people; and he loosed their tongues that they could utter.”
The Lord gave specific instructions to parents in our day about how to teach children. These instructions are found in the Doctrine and Covenants 68:25: “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine… the sin be upon the heads of the parents.”
Parents have known this counsel since the beginning days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and many parents try to follow the admonition to teach their children. My instructor shared the following quote by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Bednar’s words definitely make clear how parents are to teach their children.
“Here is the hard doctrine. It does not say to teach our children. Teaching is an activity. It says that we should teach them to understand. Understanding is an outcome; it is a result.
“It is easy for us to say, `I teach my children in the home.’ That is not the job we have been assigned. That is not the admonition. It says that we are to teach them to understand. Understanding is the outcome; that is the result. Sometimes we say `I am teaching my kids; they are going to be okay.’ Ultimately, teaching is not the outcome of what we do; understanding is.”
My instructor pointed out the obvious: Parents are commanded to teach their children in such a way that the children can understand the doctrine being taught to them. He explained that parents can “create, invite, and facilitate” but it is the Holy Ghost that actually does the teaching. If we want our children to learn the doctrine – and learning the doctrine will help them behave better, then we must teach in such a way that the Holy Ghost can be present to help the doctrine to sink deep into the souls of our children.
In closing his remarks, my instructor shared a story of how his son showed great love to his daughter at a time when she was going through some difficult times. He spoke of the peace that came into the home because his son had been taught by the Holy Ghost how to show love for his sister.
I know that we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by preparing our children to be taught by the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit is the greatest teacher there is because His teachings sink deep into souls.