5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
What an excellent talk! This is one of Elder Andersen’s personal best General Conference talks. I sometimes teach in Relief Society and requested this talk as a teaching assignment. It makes a fascinating class discussion. What I share here – I will be teaching myself in March of 2023.
You can find Elder Andersen’s full 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 blue quotes by Neil A. Andersen (unless otherwise noted).
Possible Quote Sequence
- I will probably do Quotes 4, 5, 3, 2, and 1 – in that order. I will budget the most time for quotes 4 and 5.
Quote #1 (wheat and tares)
Elder Andersen starts this talk with “the wheat and the tares.” Meaning the “children of the Kingdom” are side by side with those who don’t love God.
Tip: Consider breaking up more extended quotes and have more than one person read them. It helps maintain interest and boosts retention.
This will be our world until the Savior returns, with much that is good and much that is evil on every side.
We realize that as evil increases in the world, our spiritual survival, and the spiritual survival of those we love, will require that we more fully nurture, fortify, and strengthen the roots of our faith in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul counseled us to be rooted, grounded, and settled in our love for the Savior and our determination to follow Him. Today and the days ahead require more focused and concentrated effort, guarding against diversions and carelessness.
But even with the increasing worldly influences around us, we need not fear. The Lord will never desert His covenant people. There is a compensatory power of spiritual gifts and divine direction for the righteous.
Possible discussion questions: Elder Andersen says that evil is increasing worldwide. Have you noticed this too? Looking at your own life, could you spend more time and effort to be “more fully” rooted in Jesus Christ? What have you tried that works? Elder Andersen also said the days ahead require more focused and concentrated efforts. Do you believe you need to do more than before? Why is that?
compensatory: balancing, reimbursing, refunding
Compensatory power means power that will make up the difference for the increasing evil and weight of a falling world. Why allow evil among us instead of removing it? The Lord is in the business of growing and strengthening people. He intends to help you create an elevated, better version of yourself. Often, He opts to let the process make you stronger and increase your stature rather than make your problems disappear. (See Zap Them with Lightning for more insight into this principle.)
Quote #2 (every thought)
First, we can immerse ourselves more completely into Jesus’s life, His teachings, His majesty, His power, and His atoning sacrifice. The Savior said, “Look unto me in every thought.” The Apostle John reminds us, “We love him, because he first loved us.” As we better experience His love, we love Him even more and, very naturally, better follow His example of loving and caring for those around us. With every righteous movement toward Him, we see Him more clearly. We adore Him, and we try in our small ways to emulate Him.
Possible quick question: Immerse is a strong word. What does Elder Andersen mean by “Immerse ourselves more completely into Jesus’s life..?” (it means we need new habits that are greater than the ones we have now)
immerse: submerge, plunge, soak, absorb, get lost in
For me, “immerse more completely” means we can daily meditate, study, take notes, contemplate, acknowledge and thank Him and emulate:
- Jesus’s life
- His teachings
- His Majesty
- His power
- His atoning sacrifice
Elder Andersen reminds us we need to think about Him more often:
- look unto me in every thought
Nephi gave excellent advice – have you incorporated this into your life yet?:
29 And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out. (2 Nephi 25:29)
Elder Andersen and Nephi’s steps will fill us with His love and we will love others more.
Possible quick question: How will immersing ourselves in the Savior help us in a complex, darkened world?
Quote #3 (godly power)
Making and keeping covenants allows the love of the Savior to sink more deeply into our heart. In this month’s Liahona, President Russell M. Nelson said: “[Our] covenant[s] will lead us closer and closer to Him. … God will not abandon His relationship with those who have forged such a bond with Him.” And as President Nelson said so beautifully this morning, “With the dedication of each new temple, additional godly power comes into the world to strengthen us and counteracts the intensifying efforts of the adversary.”
Possible discussion questions: Elder Andersen asks the first question himself: “Can we see why the Lord would direct His prophet to bring the holy temples closer to us and allow us to be in His house more often?” How would you answer his question?
Possible engagement tool: An especially meaningful prayer during the Sacrament ordinance brings me closer to the Savior – name an ordinance that has special meaning to you and express to your class how it helps you love the Savior more or feel His power more.
Possible quick discussion: What is your favorite ordinance and why? Can you see evidence of the adversary intensifying his efforts? Have you ever felt more godly power enter your being in the temple? (I have – I felt it sweep into my being as I prayed in the Celestial Room last month. Also, I repeatedly go into the temple with my problems and often come out feeling equal or greater than my problems.)
Quote #4 (bold observation)
This is a profound quote that might not be obvious at first glance.
Possible engagement tool: As we read this quote, listen for unusual insights that help us keep the Holy Ghost in our lives.
“…In this sacred quest, we treasure, protect, defend, and safeguard the gift of the Holy Ghost. [Here is] President Nelson’s prophetic warning that I will repeat again: “It will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” It is a gift beyond price. We do our very best to protect our daily experiences so the influence of the Holy Ghost remains with us. We are a light to the world, and when necessary, we willingly choose to be different from others. President Dallin H. Oaks recently asked young adults: “Do [you] ‘dare to be different?’ … [Especially] important … are the choices you are making in your personal life. … Are you going forward against the world’s opposition?”
- “protect daily experiences”
- “go forward against the opposition”
Can you hear the difference in those words compared to more traditional sermons about the Holy Ghost?
Elder Andersen points out that it is necessary to protect our daily experiences, be different and go forward against the world’s opposition to keep the Holy Ghost in our lives. That is is bold, eye-opening statement!
Possible discussion questions: What does it mean to you to “protect your daily experiences”? Do we have to be more intentional now in navigating through our day? What do we need to avoid to protect the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives? How have you been “willingly different”? What are some examples of “going forward against the world’s opposition”?
Quote #5 (glorious purpose)
This is such a poetic, gorgeous statement! This quote can be used as an opening or closing or as another discussion. Elder Andersen helps us see a glorious purpose and a method to the madness we see around us.
Shining as a light to those around us, we consciously shape our desires, thoughts, choices, and actions. Seeking with all our heart to know and love the Savior, we separate ourselves from the world through covenants with God, being distinct, uncommon, and special, as we honor Him and His teachings without isolating ourselves from others who believe differently.
It is a wondrous journey to be wheat among the tares, sometimes fraught with heartache but always calmed by the maturing and assuring settling of our faith. As you allow your love for the Savior and His love for you to sink deep into your heart, I promise you added confidence, peace, and joy in meeting the challenges of your life.
Possible Object Lesson: Notice the sequence Elder Andersen uses: desires ==> thoughts ==> choices ==> actions. (Perhaps write these four words with arrows on the board.) Our social norms influence our desires and thoughts. In other words, who and what we repeatedly surround ourselves with eventually shows up in our choices and actions (both large and small).
Here’s a simple example – Picture this scenario in your mind. You’re on a strict low-cal, no-sugar diet to get back into shape; you’ve had nothing to eat for 8 hours. You go hang out at a bakery specializing in your top three favorite desserts. As you sit in the bakery, those desserts are directly in your line of sight, along with a sign that says. “Three-For-One Special.” You visit this bakery almost every day.
The question is not whether you will buy and eat those desserts – it’s how long before you cave in.
If you want to change the outcome (your choices and actions) – you need to change your social norms (your environment). In other words – be intentional about who and what are within easy reach. Social norms matter, and they heavily influence your desires and thoughts. Which, in turn, become your choices and actions.
Possible object lesson questions: What are some examples of social norms or environments we need to change or avoid? As we went through this scenario, a situation that might need to change in your life probably appeared in your head. By a show of hands, how many of you thought of something that may need to change in order to have better outcomes? Does anyone mind sharing what they thought of?
Distinct, Uncommon, and Special
Elder Andersen uses eloquent words to describe faithful Latter-day Saint followers of Jesus Christ.
distinct: clear-cut, definite, visible, unmistakable, decided, marked
uncommon: unconventional, rare, noteworthy, unique, unparalleled
special: significant, memorable, extraordinary, exceptional, outstanding
Quick discussion question: How does it feel to describe yourself using these words?
Possible activity: Make a handout with these three words and their definitions. Ask the class members to take a quick minute and repeat Elder Andersen’s description with you, “I am distinct, uncommon, and special.” Or have them recite the phrase in their heads. Next, instruct them to pick one word from each word list and recreate their own statement. For example, mine is “I am visible, noteworthy, and memorable.” Have them say that sentence to themselves.
Possible activity questions: Which words did you pick? How do those words make you feel? Do we sometimes need to remind ourselves of our elevated footing vs. the world’s less flattering perspective of our religious life?
We were always meant to be seen as distinct, uncommon, and special. It is an honored place in this world.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
Here is the beautiful promise to each of us, despite the difficulties and the tares around us:
As you allow your love for the Savior and His love for you to sink deep into your heart, I promise you added confidence, peace, and joy in meeting the challenges of your life.
Let’s look at those promises a bit closer! Sometimes, we hear words so often that we don’t absorb their significance.
confidence: assurance, certainty, courage, determination, morale, poise
peace: tranquility, calmness, relaxation
joy: cheer, delight, elation, wonder
These are the quality states of being brought to us by seeking out the Savior and actively loving Him. (See Relationship with Christ for additional insights).
Possible Quick Questions: Which one of these qualities or experiences do you want more of? Elder Andersen tells us how to have more positive inner experiences – how would you explain his advice to a friend? What can you do to seek and love the Savior more?
Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Andersen’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.
I am thrilled you are studying and maybe teaching Elder Andersen’s General Conference talk. What a blessing this will be for your group of saints. Thank you for seeking and preparing. Visiting my site and others like it says a lot about you! Putting in extra study and effort is a way of magnifying your calling or assignment. Good luck, and have faith in what you are drawn to teach from all this material.
Put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you. If you would like tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.“