5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
Could we ever get tired of Dieter? Especially when he uses yet another airplane pilot analogy? Perhaps such stories should get old, but they don’t! What’s more, he makes earnest efforts to rejuvenate you and power you up to the best version of yourself. This talk makes for great class discussion.
You may find his complete talk here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions that resonate the most with you and make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.
All quotes by Dieter F. Uchtdorf and in blue (unless otherwise noted).
Quote #1 (circles)
Elder Uchtdorf starts off with a professional study about our tendency to walk in circles without realizing it. This is a long quote so if you have time, assign it to someone else and allow them to summarize it in their own words. Or summarize it in your own words as a class introduction. I’ve included the full quote for convenience:
There is an oft-repeated theory that people who are lost walk in circles. Not long ago, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics tested that theory. They took participants to a thick forest and gave them simple instructions: “Walk in a straight line.” There were no visible landmarks. The test subjects had to rely solely on their sense of direction.
How do you think they did?
The scientists concluded, “People really [do] walk in circles when they do not have reliable cues to their walking direction.” When questioned afterwards, some participants self-confidently claimed that they had not deviated in the slightest. Despite their high confidence, GPS data showed that they walked in loops as tight as 20 meters in diameter.
Why do we do have such a hard time walking in a straight line? Some researchers hypothesize that small, seemingly insignificant deviations in terrain make the difference. Others have pointed to the fact that we all have one leg that is slightly stronger than the other. “More likely,” however, we struggle to walk straight ahead “[because] of increasing uncertainty about where straight ahead is.”
Whatever the cause, it is human nature: without reliable landmarks, we drift off course.
Possible discussion questions: How can we relate this study about walking in circles to our own lives? How do you sometimes walk in circles or drift off course? What can be done differently? Have you ever felt “stuck in a rut”? Is it easy to drift off course in our lives? What helps you to correct your course when needed? What do you find helps you the most?
Quote #2 (wandering)
Whether the wandering is small or great – they both need attention. We all need constant course corrections. Sometimes, those small steps away from the path can result in a lot of setbacks.
Isn’t it interesting how small, seemingly insignificant factors can make a major difference in our lives?
I know this from personal experience as a pilot. Every time I started the approach to an airport, I knew that much of my remaining work would consist of making constant minor course corrections to safely direct the aircraft to our desired landing runway.
Most of the changes in our spiritual lives—both positive and negative—happen gradually, a step at a time. Like the participants in the Max Planck study, we may not realize when we veer off course. We may even have high confidence that we are walking a straight line. But the fact is that without the help of landmarks to guide us, we inevitably deviate off course and end up in places we never thought we would be.
No matter how strong our spiritual experiences have been in the past, as human beings we tend to wander. That has been the pattern from the days of Adam until now.
Possible discussion questions: What course corrections do you need to make? What could you stop doing and what do you need to start doing? (you may or may not get volunteers for these first questions – so be ready to share. If you are self-disclosing, often it gives others the freedom to share as well.) What are some examples of seemingly small deviations? (letting our daily scripture study and prayers lapse, using unkind tones at home, watching or listening to questionable media)
Quote #3 (personal daily restoration)
This is my favorite part of the talk. I am so motivated by this – that I calendared a specific time each day to ensure it happens. I attached it to something I do each day because that makes it easier to remember. (my 4 pm herbal tea time – bedtime is not as productive for me). Invite your class to listen for and pull out the daily habits Elder Uchtdorf suggests.
But all is not lost. Unlike the wandering test subjects, we have reliable, visible landmarks that we can use to evaluate our course.
And what are these landmarks?
Surely they include daily prayer and pondering the scriptures and using inspired tools like Come, Follow Me. Each day, we can approach the throne of God in humility and honesty. We can ponder our actions and review the moments of our day—considering our will and desires in light of His. If we have drifted, we plead with God to restore us, and we commit to do better.
This time of introspection is an opportunity for recalibration. It is a garden of reflection where we can walk with the Lord and be instructed, edified, and purified by the written and Spirit-revealed word of our Heavenly Father. It is a sacred time when we remember our solemn covenants to follow the gentle Christ, when we assess our progress and align ourselves with the spiritual landmarks God has provided for His children.
Think of it as your personal, daily restoration.
Possible class activity: Ask your class to volunteer some of Elder Uchtdorf’s daily suggestions for personal restoration and perhaps list them on the board. (Hint: increase participation by asking for a volunteer to write them on the board for you while you run the discussion.) Here are some I came up with:
Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s daily list
- honest, humble prayer
- scripture study
- Come, Follow Me study
- end-of-day review prayer which inclues contrasting our actions and our will with His desires
- pleading with God to restore us (empower us – gift us with strength)
- commit to do better (be specific)
Possible discussion questions: What would be the best time of the day for you to practice these suggestions? Is there anything from Elder Uchtdorf’s list you have found helps you spiritually? Which is it and how does it help you?
Quote #4 (minutes and hours)
Elder Uchtdorf shares a strategy to achieve a successful life. I have found that not every minute can be of the highest quality, but habitually adding high-quality minutes and habits to my day makes a HUGE difference in how my life plays out.
Do you want to change the shape of your life?
Change the shape of your day.
Do you want to change your day?
Change this hour.
Change what you think, feel, and do at this very moment.
A small rudder can steer a large ship.
Small bricks can become magnificent mansions.
Small seeds can become towering sequoias.
Minutes and hours well spent are the building blocks of a life well lived. They can inspire goodness, lift us from the captivity of imperfections, and lead us upward to the redemptive path of forgiveness and sanctification.
Possible questions: How can changing our day change our life? What can you do in a minute that will make a positive difference? (maybe list ideas on the board – hug someone, send someone a friendly text, read a few verses, say a quick prayer). After discussing Elder Uchtdorf’s talk, what habit do you feel prompted to add to your day? When will you do it? How will you make sure it happens? (goal charts, phone app reminders, notes to yourself?)
Quote #5 (new beginnings)
As I read this talk today, I feel deep gratitude for a gospel of renewal and a Savior who makes it possible. The wonderful news is we really do have another chance.
We can become new creatures in Christ, for God has promised, “As often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me” and “remember them no more.”
My beloved brothers and sisters, dear friends, we all drift from time to time.
But we can get back on course. We can navigate our way through the darkness and trials of this life and find our way back to our loving Heavenly Father if we seek and accept the spiritual landmarks He has provided, embrace personal revelation, and strive for daily restoration. This is how we become true disciples of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ.
restoration: revival, recovery, rebuilding, healing, rejuvenation, alterations
Possible discussion questions: What is the process Elder Uchtdorf describes to become a true disciple? (accept spiritual landmarks, embrace personal revelation and strive for daily restoration) What are some spiritual landmarks that help us keep a straight course? Why do we need “restoration” daily? How do you feel about Elder Uchtdorf’s talk today? By show of hands – who has felt inspiration to act or do something new today? Does anyone feel comfortable sharing their thoughts? (Be prepared to answer this question if no one volunteers.)
Close by sharing key class highlights and/or sharing your testimony.
Since the teacher learns the most – being assigned this lesson is a tender mercy. We all need rejuvenation and renewal. Thanks to Elder Uchtdorf for inspiring us to upgrade and lead a happier life. Blessings to you as you prepare this timely message for your group. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach and to emphasize. Even if you only get through a couple of quotes – if there is active discussion – you’ve completely succeeded.
Note: If you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.”