Sunday, February 15, 2015

Learn, Teach

By Scott L. Vanatter
Learning and Teaching in the Home and the Church (2014 Auxiliary Training)
In our daily ministries as we participate in all the broad aspects of Hastening the Work 


Dear brothers and sisters: Truth exists and can be known. Truth is beautiful. Truth is powerful. “Truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” (DC 84:45) Jesus, of course, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Think of the meaning and implications following Doctrines: The First Vision, The Book of Mormon, The Plan of Salvation, Eternal Progression. Temples wherein sacred truths are taught, and powerful ordinances performed; where Families Are Forever. Taken together as “one great whole,” there is nothing like it -- unique in all Christendom, unique in all religions of the world.
All this is made real and efficacious by the power and reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He is not only our Savior and Redeemer, but our Exemplar and Friend, and he is the Master Teacher.
I bear witness this doctrine of the Restored Gospel is glorious and beautiful, sweet and delicious, enlightening and inviting, expansive and generous, infinite and eternal, empowering, comforting, ennobling and exalting -- because Jesus is there at the center, with his arms outstretched, reaching toward and drawing us back into his close embrace. 


Our theme for this lesson is taken from the 2014 Auxiliary Training: Learning and Teaching in the Home and Church. Note the order of this heading. This video training was led by Elders Holland and Christofferson, along with the presiding bishop, and presidents of the Relief Society, Young Women, Primary and Sunday School. Today’s lesson is offered in support of a couple of the items from that training: The value of “Lifelong Learning,” and the absolute necessity that “We All Need to Be Nurtured.”
Pointedly and somewhat poignantly, Elder Holland commented that we do a pretty good job in Teaching, but he thought we could do better with respect to Learning. 


So, I invite us all to re-enthrone, re-new, re-energize our love of learning – no matter where we are in our progression.
The stake has invited me to teach this lesson and to invite my wife to help. I will introduce the theme today by focusing a bit more on the Mind of the Mind/Heart continuum, and my wife will wrap up focusing on the Heart.
The bishop has also asked us to consider how we can apply Learning and Teaching in our daily ministries -- as we participate in all the broad aspects of Hastening the Work. So, as we begin to develop a few ideas today in this lesson, look ahead and think of how Learning impacts Teaching.
  • How Learning enlightens an awareness of who We are. 
  • How Learning empowers our Covenants. 
  • How Learning makes us more tender toward the Poor and Needy. 
  • How Learning grows Faith. 
  • How Learning prods us to Share, and gives life to Prayer. 
  • How Learning increases our Love of all things Holy. 
  • How Learning turns our hearts to our Ancestors, and cements our Relationship to God. To the Whole Family of Heaven. 

John Taylor characterized what Joseph Smith taught as: “So much more comprehensive, enlightened and dignified than that which the people generally knew and comprehended.” (John Taylor on Joseph Smith, JD 10:147-148)
Joseph himself used this language with respect to the impact of the Plan of Salvation: 

“The sublimity of the ideas; the purity of the language; the scope for action; the continued duration for completion . . . are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every honest man is constrained to exclaim: ‘It came from God’.” (DHC 1:252) 

Here is how Joseph Smith challenges us to interact with Diety. Please notice how far and wide and deeply we need to Learn.
“The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out.
“Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity – thou must commune with God.”


Now, a rhetorical question or two. Think of a recent experience where you learned something new, or gained some insight, or re-learned something that meant a lot to you. An ah-ha moment.
  • Who have you shared it with? Your spouse, your kids, your parents, a friend, a neighbor, a stranger? 
  • What settings can you create to help ensure the most sacred of these insights -- these revelations -- are transmitted to the ones you love? 
Boyd K. Packer famously and insightfully taught, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitude and behavior. [I repeat, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.] The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” Question: Why is this true? { . . . . . . }
Jesus said, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart…” And it goes on. (See Matt 11) Note, I believe that the second phrase has something to do with the first phrase. But for now: What did Jesus mean when he said, “learn of me.” { . . . . . . }
Another rhetorical question: How can a lively knowledge of our literal relationship with Deity -- or, a humble recognition of the divine spark deep within each of us -- or, an immediate and personal participation in the Atonement Jesus offers us TODAY -- inform how we participate in Hastening the Work?*

Prophets from Moroni to MacKay have extolled the benefits of pondering**, meditating, or Joseph characterized it: gazing into heaven. Listen to how Joseph recommends we tackle real learning.
“Could we read and comprehend all that has been written from the days of Adam on the relations of God and angels [that’s all of us] in a future state, we should know very little about it.
“Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you could possibly by reading all that ever was written on the subject.” (9 October 1843 -- The Words of Joseph Smith, p. 254.)


I am encouraged by this new generation of young families, you are peers of our daughters. Your sincere approach to Family Home Evening, learning and personal study is a marvelous work and a wonder. (~ And . . . our own peers.)
With you, I bear witness of the joy and value of Learning. I invite us all to re-enthrone the place of Learning in our personal lives – and creatively and strategically meld it into how we help Hasten the Work of Salvation.
# # # 

*How does a commitment to Lifelong Learning help us Become or Be all that we, as heirs, are to become?
Another approach to learning: When a problem presents itself at home or at church, rather than rush to the “answer” let’s experiment with an examination of what Doctrine, properly understood, would clear the way to a more permanent solution, or perspective.
**One final note on the power of Pondering. Pondering has been compared to a pilot practicing take offs and landings. The pilot takes off and circles the airport, then comes in for a landing but rather than apply the brakes when the wheels touch down, the pilot immediately takes off again. He circles the air strip once again perhaps from a slightly different perspective. The pilot touches down but immediately takes off again.
Circling high above airport is pondering. Touching down on the airstrip is returning to read the actual text at hand. Perhaps SOME passages are so key and intriguing to us, that we spend more time pondering than actually READING the text. We might even take up a helicopter, rather than a plane.