TALK: Teaching in the Savior’s Way

Here’s a talk I gave today in sacrament meeting.

I am excited for the opportunity to be here with you today to share with you what I have learned as I prepared my talk, and I look forward to sharing my testimony with all of you. Since I am new to this ward I thought I would start by introducing myself to you. The challenge I found myself in as I prepared my talk was where to start with my introduction. While pondering that thought, I recalled a time when I was interviewing a recent college graduate for a position at the company I worked for. As the interview began, I look at the eager young man and asked him to tell me a little bit about himself. He followed the counsel of Fraulein Maria from the Sound of Music and started at the very beginning. He said, “Well, I was born in Provo….” As I listened to him recite his life story, all I could help but think was, maybe he should have started a little closer to the present. So I’ll take my own advice and stick to at least this decade.

I have three very amazing children. Some of the activities we love to do are hiking (and I always have my camera with me, to their chagrin), traveling, wrestling (although I think my role in the whole wrestling match is to keep the kids from maiming themselves), and now that winter is here, you’ll probably find a sledding hill start to emerge in our backyard as we get more and more snow.

Currently I work as a spokesperson for Intermountain Medical Center in Murray. So I’m happy to say I’ve been quoted on ESPN, and it wasn’t for my jump shot in church ball – sorry Elders. I’ve also played a liver transplant surgeon on a TV commercial, and I’ve seen inside the human body without passing out. One of my primary roles at work is to coordinate social media for the hospital, so essentially I get paid to play on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and yes, even Pinterest. I love the opportunities I have to meet some amazing people and families who are experiencing some of the toughest moments of their lives, but are meeting those challenges head on. I have the honor of working with those families and their doctors to tell their story, so if you see a story about a patient or family from one of the Intermountain Healthcare hospitals in Salt Lake County, chances are I was behind the scenes helping coordinate it.

I mentioned earlier that I usually have my camera with me when my kids and I are out on another adventure. I am a hobbyist photographer and love to photograph anything I don’t have to make smile – namely landscapes and LDS temples. I truly love the opportunities to use my talent to capture some of the beauty of the earth and share it with others.

Orlando_Florida_Temple-1-WEBS

Orlando Florida Temple

This last part about me does stretch back a little more than a decade, but I hope you’ll forgive me. I served an LDS mission in southern France and loved the opportunity to share the gospel with that area of the world. I saw people from all walks of life and all religions – or those without religion. At one point, near the end of my mission, I had a French couple ask me how I felt the French people were when it came to being receptive to these American kids in white shirts and ties. I told them it had its ups and downs. Yes, I had rocks thrown at me (and I was glad the teenage kids couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn). I had many doors shut in my face. I’d even had someone tell me that I shouldn’t seek after the light of Christ, because darkness was much better. So the type of people I met in the streets and countryside of France was a mixed bag, but I really did love all of them.

The French couple shared an analogy with me after that. They said the French people are like nuts (I will admit I had to laugh when he first said that, but I kept my composure and listened intently). They have a hard outer shell and it takes a while to break through that shell with them. But once you are inside, they will always have a place for you and you will be one of their best friends. I found that to be true as I finished up my mission and returned home.

And I’ve found that even in America, there are a lot of nuts out there, and I’ve tried to crack through some of the shells and develop friendships with co-workers, neighbors, and even those people I’ve met in some of my previous callings.

For me, some of my favorite callings have been those where I have been asked to teach. I’ve taught the CTR 5s, the 10-11 year olds, the Elders quorum and now I am teaching the youth. I have a lot to learn when it comes to teaching and am glad Bishop Dana asked me to speak today on Teaching in the Savior’s Way – because I’ve found that far too many times in my teaching callings, I would try to teach my way. I may have had principles of the Savior’s way mixed in there, but I’m hoping that as I came to understand some of the methods I’ll share with you today, I can be a better teacher, both here in my calling, and outside of this church building with my own family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and others that I may encounter.

For those of you here today who don’t have a specific calling to teach primary, Sunday school, Gospel Doctrine, Relief Society, Elders Quorum or the High Priests, I hope you will still pay attention, because throughout our daily lives there are numerous opportunities we will have to teach those around us, so I hope to share with you some ways we can all be teachers seven days a week, 365 days a year.

I’d like each of you to reflect for a moment on what you know about the savior. What images come to your mind? Is it Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus on the cross or a baby in a manger? Is it him walking or talking with his disciples or teaching a multitude by the Sea of Galilee? Is he speaking to a woman at a well, or calling the little children to come sit on his lap? Each and every moment of the savior’s life was him teaching. It wasn’t just on Sunday during one of the blocks. It was every day.

But how did he do that? What are some of the ways he taught his brothers and sisters?

Today I want to focus on some of His ways, and share both scriptural and modern day examples so we can start to see how we can teach those around us the way the Savior taught during his mortal ministry.

In Matthew 22, versus 37-39 we read, “Jesus said unto them, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.”

One of the best things we can do to be like Jesus when we teach is to love those to whom we are teaching. What are some ways we can do that? We can pray for them and continually serve them. The savior found opportunities to be with those he loved and to express that love to them. By doing this, he was able to know of their interests, hopes, and desires and what was happening in their lives.

A few years ago, I was working with a patient on a story about her kidney transplant. Both the living kidney donor and the kidney recipient were still in the hospital and we were inviting the media to their hospital floor so they could share their story. As the media spoke to the woman who had been given the kidney, she expressed her gratitude to her home teacher, who was the person who donated his kidney to save her life. **** I shared this story in a previous ward and the bishop had to clarify that people should still do their home and visiting teaching, because not every home teacher or visiting teacher would be asked to spare a kidney – so please don’t let this story dissuade you from doing your home teaching ****. How did that loving home teacher know that this woman needed a kidney? He had followed in the savior’s way and found opportunities throughout the years to visit them and express his love to them. He knew of their interests and hopes, and he knew she needed a kidney and had not been able to find another match. So he offered up his kidney and provided her with a higher quality of life.

Are there people in your life that you know that well? Do you prayer for them and seek opportunities to serve them? In short, do you love them and let them know through word and deed that you love them?

Another way the Savior teaches is by being prepared. In more modern times, we have an example of an early apostle who was taught a very important lesson that applies to us today: In May of 1829, Hyrum Smith learned an important lesson. The Lord gave him a revelation through his brother, the Prophet Joseph Smith. In that revelation, Hyrum was told that he was not yet called to preach. And until he was called, he should keep the commandments of the Lord and prepare himself. The scripture we may all recognize is found in Doctrine and Covenants, section 11, verse 21.

“Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.”

How can we apply that to us today? Do we find ourselves in opportunities to teach those around us? A few weeks ago I was working on a media story with a local news reporter and we were interviewing a doctor about liver disease. During the conversations outside of the interview, the topic of coffee came up. He said that based on numerous medical research studies, coffee has many health benefits. In fact, if coffee were a prescription, the doctors would be writing a lot of prescriptions. That started quite a discussion about the culture here in Utah, and of the four people in the room, I was the only one who was LDS. So they all turned to me and asked why we don’t drink coffee. Talk about intimidation! I don’t have a medical degree. I am not a world-renowned liver doctor. I was a public relations guy who works with reporters to line up the really smart people to talk about complicated medical procedures.

But it was a teaching opportunity for me and the pressure was on. I expressed to them that I don’t have a medical background and don’t understand all the effects – both harmful or beneficial – but I knew that we have been counseled to not drink coffee as per the word of wisdom and modern day prophets. This was not the first time I had been asked this question – especially having served a mission in France where wine was commonplace, and medical research said a daily glass of red wine was good for the heart. I put my faith in doing what the Lord had asked me to do, even when I may not understand the exact reason why.

Two additional ways the Savior teaches are things I have already tried to include in my talk. First, I’ve used the scriptures – both the bible and doctrine and covenants. The Savior taught people to think about the scriptures for themselves and use them to find answers to their own questions. In fact, Nephi taught us to “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” Have you ever been reading the scriptures and the stories you read were applicable to a current struggle or obstacle you were looking to overcome?

The second way is to share simple stories, parables and real-life examples. I’ve tried to share a few of those with you today, so you can visually see how a story may apply to applying gospel principles. In my line of work, I get to share stories. I’ve shared a story of a little 2-year-old girl who was receiving a liver from another little girl who had been killed in an accident. I’ve shared the story of a mom who delivered twins along I-80 east of Wendover. I’ve also shared the story of a woman who received a revolutionary new pacemaker that reduces complications from the more traditional pacemaker and helps her live a much healthier life.

Why do I share these stories at work? Because people can relate to human interest stories. We all like to read or watch a story where we can connect with that person. If I were to simply talk to you about this new pacemaker, I would probably draw many blank stares from the audience. But if I share the story of this woman and explain what she wasn’t able to do because of the abnormal rhythm of her heart, and how this pacemaker changed all of that for her and her entire family, you’re more likely to listen and capture the key message.

One way I use to teach my kids are through experiences I had as a missionary. In fact, I sometimes read from them out of my missionary journals because I know it will put them to sleep. I also look for opportunities in our daily activities that will help them see the Lord’s hand.

This last summer, my kids and I took a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. We embarked on a four mile hike one afternoon to Hellroaring Creek. One mile into the hike we encountered two park rangers who warned us about a storm warning for the area from the National Weather Service. We asked if we were okay to continue the hike out another mile, and he responded, “Just don’t stray too far from camp.” We continued out another mile to the creek, and after enjoying a few moments rest, we headed back.

In the distance, I could see the storm clouds rolling in. We were standing in a wide open meadow and the protection of the trees was about ¾ mile away. Without alarming my kids, I told them we should pick up the pace so that if it started to rain, we could have protection from the trees so we wouldn’t get too wet. About ½ mile from the car, some very light raindrops started falling from the sky. We continued our hike, but my kids were tired. In fact, my oldest son had his arm around my daughter and was helping encourage her on to the car. I was holding my youngest son’s hand to help keep him moving. About 400 yards from the car, my son and I entered a large open area. I had been hearing some thunder in the distance, so I told my youngest we should probably run through this small meadow.

As we started through the meadow, a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder roughly one second a part motivated my son to book it through the meadow. We made it safely to the car, and as soon as I loaded the kids into the car, threw my camera gear in the trunk and hopped into the driver’s seat, the heavens opened and the rains came down. It was a deluge, with thunder and lightning galore. Had we been even five minutes later, we would have been soaked.

I turned to my kids in the back seat and told them we had definitely been blessed. Heavenly Father was looking out for us and had kept us safe.

A few weeks later, my daughter received a postcard from our ward’s Primary President to thank her for sharing her testimony about her experience in Yellowstone. It was one of those great parenting moments that made me so very proud of my kids. I was glad I had taken the opportunity to use our experience in that rainstorm as a teaching moment.

So, what are some other ways the Savior taught? He asked questions. I’ve asked a few questions during my talk today, and I am sure in today’s lessons in Church or maybe even your Family Home Evening tomorrow night, there will be a question asked. In fact, here’s another question. Why did the Savior ask questions? Because it allows us to think and feel more deeply. But it was also a way for the Savior to get to know the people he was teaching. He was sincerely interested in their answers and rejoiced in their expressions of faith. He also gave them opportunities to ask their own questions and share their own insights. In fact, because of his love for them, they felt safe sharing their thoughts and personal feelings.

As a parent, I hope that my kids know how much I love them, so they feel safe sharing their thoughts and personal feelings as well.

In the interest of time, I am going to quickly share four additional ways the savior taught, so we can find ways to teach His way in our daily lives.

He invited people to testify. What better way to grow someone’s testimony that by asking them to testify. When you are asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting, or to prepare a lesson for Sunday School or Family Home Evening, does your testimony become strengthened as you share what you believe? I know mine does.

Years ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley outlined three things every member of the Church needs – a friend, an assignment and to be nourished by the good word of God. I wanted to highlight the second need in that list – an assignment. The Savior gave his disciples assignments because he trusted them. He had prepared them and then gave the responsibilities to teach, bless and serve others. As we strive to be like the savior and teach those around us, we need to give them responsibilities and encourage them to succeed.

In the Missionary Training Center we were taught a lot of things – but one element they focused on was the need to make an invitation. People weren’t likely to get baptized if no one invited them to do so. In all of the Savior’s teachings, he focused on helping His followers live the gospel with all their hearts. To accomplish this, he found opportunities for them to learn through powerful experiences. When he appeared to the Nephites he invited them to come to Him one by one, that they might see, feel and know Him for themselves. Do we make invitations to our children, our family members, maybe a neighbor or co-worker? I invite you to think about ways you can invite someone to do something this holiday season – maybe to the ward Christmas party. An invitation to read the Book or Mormon. Or maybe to join you for a Family Home Evening about the true meaning of Christmas.

And finally, the Savior taught by example. He taught them to pray by praying himself. He taught them to serve and love others by doing so himself. He taught them how to teach the gospel by teaching them by example.

It is my prayer that as we go through this holiday season, we can take the opportunity to share and teach others about why we celebrate Christmas. We can do so by implementing the example of how He taught

He loved them

He knew who they were

He prepare himself

He used the scriptures

He shared simple stories, parable and real-life examples

He asked questions

He invited them to testify

He trusted them

He invited them to act in faith

He was their example and mentor.

I testify that as we seek to teach in the Savior’s way, as parents, family, friends and even in church callings, we will be able to share the knowledge we have about our Heavenly Father’s plan with those around us, and find joy in bringing others to the safety and security of the gospel. I share these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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