5 Highlights for “Invite Christ to Author Your Story” by Camille N. Johnson

by | Oct 31, 2021

woman speaking at podium

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

What a delightful talk by Camille N Johnson! I love her message of partnering with Christ in personal, individualized ways.

You may find her 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 Camille N. Johnson and in blue (unless otherwise noted).

Quote #1 (your story)

Quick Note: While I’m not sure if Sister Johnson meant to frame the Holy Ghost as a gateway or intercessory person for access and communication with Christ and Heavenly Father — a couple of her statements could be interpreted that way. I would not include quotes that might reinforce that cultural teaching. I felt this issue needed doctrinal clarification, so I included references to President Nelson and Elder Andersen at the end of this lesson for you if it helps. Please don’t detract from your lesson by addressing or calling attention to this point in class. There are several outstanding, key ideas for spirituality and a relationship with the Savior from Sister Johnson’s inspirational talk. Your class will be blessed for focusing on those.

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Sister Johnson opens up with a more profound introspective question. Be ready to answer any of the questions yourself in case your group needs warming up.

I testify that the Savior is “the author and finisher of our faith.” Will you invite Him to be the author and finisher of your story?

He knows the beginning from the end. He was the Creator of heaven and earth. He wants us to return home to Him and our Heavenly Father. He has everything invested in us and wants us to succeed.

What do you suppose keeps us from turning our stories over to Him?

Perhaps it is because we don’t have the faith to accept the answer we might receive. Perhaps it is because the natural man or woman in us is resistant to turning things completely over to the Lord and trusting Him entirely. Maybe that is why we choose to stick with the narrative we have written for ourselves, a comfortable version of our story unedited by the Master Author. We don’t want to ask a question and get an answer that doesn’t fit neatly into the story we are writing for ourselves.

Possible discussion questions: Let’s answer Sister Johnson’s question – “what do you suppose keeps us from turning our stories over to Him”? Can it be hard to leave our comfort zone even when we know we should? Have you ever ignored promptings? How did that turn out? How can we gain more trust and faith in the Lord? (follow promptings)

Quote #2 (scrawny me)

Frankly, few of us would probably write into our stories the trials that refine us. But don’t we love the glorious culmination of a story we read when the protagonist overcomes the struggle? Trials are the elements of the plot that make our favorite stories compelling, timeless, faith promoting, and worthy of telling. The beautiful struggles written into our stories are what draw us closer to the Savior and refine us, making us more like Him.

…Jesus Christ stands ready to use us as divine instruments, sharpened pencils in His hand, to write a masterpiece! He is mercifully willing to use me, a scrawny pencil, as an instrument in His hands, if I have the faith to let Him, if I will let Him author my story.

Camille uses David as an example, but it fits the Primary age more, and few of us can relate. You have options; you can use that specific story or leave it out and invite your group to contribute their favorite scripture stories and church history examples. I would opt for the latter. It allows for more participation. This is an excellent assignment to give out ahead of time and have 2-3 people ready to share.

Tell A Story

Invite your 2-3 people, if you have them, to share first. If not, have a story ready to start the discussion and share it. It could be the David or Ester story – or any scripture/church history story you enjoy telling.

Possible discussion questions: Sister Johnson used David, Goliath, and Ester as examples; Both David and Ester could have gone home and stayed in their comfort zones. Instead, they acted in faith – what is your favorite scripture story or church history story that illustrates making hard, uncomfortable choices? What stands out for you from that story? It’s hard to think of trials as good things or even blessings – how would you help a friend understand that concept? By a show of hands, have you ever gone through a tough experience and realized it strengthened you? Who is willing to share an example?

Quote #3 (more faith)

This is the perfect material for breaking into discussion groups if variety appeals to you. I’ve included instructions below for discussion groups even introverts will like.

Or have four class members read the intro and three examples of faith right in a row.

Because this is a lot of material to consider – make sure everyone has their copy of the intro and examples to follow along. Invite your class or smaller groups to notice which example of faith stands out to them today and why? Do not worry about discussing all three stories; you taught them simply by having them read them. The ones that your group needs to discuss the most will be the ones that get the most airtime.

Intro Quote: In April 2021, our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, asked us to consider what we could do if we had more faith in Jesus Christ. With more faith in Jesus Christ, we could ask a question to which we do not know the answer—ask our Father in Heaven, in the name of Jesus Christ…If we had more faith, we would ask the question and then be willing to accept the answer we receive, even if it doesn’t fit our comfortable narrative. And the promised blessing that will come from acting in faith in Jesus Christ is an increase in faith in Him as our author and finisher. President Nelson declared that we “receive more faith by doing something that requires more faith.”

Example #1 – So, a childless couple suffering with infertility may ask in faith whether they should adopt children and be willing to accept the answer, even though the narrative they had written for themselves included a miraculous birth.

Example #2 – A senior couple may ask whether it is time for them to serve a mission and be willing to go, even though the narrative they had written for themselves included more time in the workforce. Or maybe the answer will be “not yet,” and they will learn in later chapters of their story why they were needed at home a little bit longer.

Example #3 – A teenaged young man or young woman may ask in faith whether a pursuit of sports or academics or music is of most value and be willing to follow the promptings of the perfect witness, the Holy Ghost.

Possible questions (whole-group discussion): After listening to Sister Johnson’s examples, ask your group: Which example of faith stands out for you today? Why does it touch you? Have you had any similar experiences?

Small group option: Have people split into small groups (3-5 people per group if possible). Instruct them to skim through the three examples on their own and then decide as a group which 1 or 2 they want to discuss together for 5-10 minutes (1- Having their own copy of stories and questions in hand to look at and 2 – discussing the options as a group are an excellent warm-up for introverts). Also, walk around and listen to each group for a bit without directing their conversation. Validate and nod. Only jump in if they are highly challenged, and no one is talking. The following group questions are best put on the same paper as the 3 examples:  Which example of faith stands out for you today? Why does it touch you? Have you had any similar experiences?  At the close of the discussion time, have each group elect a spokesperson to summarize their group’s ideas. Allow others to add comments as you go along. Expect about 15-20 minutes for this activity.

Quote #4 (closing summary)

To think that a powerful, Supreme Christ is waiting for my invitation to be a part of my story and willingly wants to – is thrilling. His compassion and interest in me adds to my adoration and feelings of gratitude and worship.

Invite the members of your class to be engaged by asking them to notice what stands out for them when they hear the following quote:

Brothers and sisters, just one year ago our dear prophet asked: “Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? … Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition?” I humbly add to those prophetic inquiries: “Will you let God be the author and finisher of your story?”

In Revelation we learn that we will stand before God and be judged out of the books of life, according to our works.

We will be judged by our book of life. We can choose to write a comfortable narrative for ourselves. Or we can allow the Master Author and Finisher to write our story with us, letting the role He needs us to play take precedence over other ambitions.

Let Christ be the author and finisher of your story!

If you have time, invite members of the class to share their thoughts and impressions about this lesson: “What stands out for you today from Sister Johnson’s quote or our class discussions”?

Closing

Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about letting Christ write our story with us.

Final Comment

Because the story-telling takes up time, I’ve only included 4 quotes. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach. Teach with confidence; if you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.” The Heavens called you to teach this lesson for a reason, and your insights will help several people in significant ways. Thank you for taking the time to encourage people to have greater faith! We need you – I am so grateful for your preparations.

Doctrinal Clarification:

It is not uncommon for church members (even prominent ones) to confuse the different roles of the Godhead. For sure, I’ve done it most of my adult member life. For clarifications and learning, I’ve included a list of links that might be helpful. These are not for your lesson – they are for you. In short, the Holy Ghost’s role is to testify of the Father and the Son, teach, witness, warn, guide, invite repentance, and remind us of eternal truths. He does not act as an in-between for you and Christ or you and Heavenly Father. The only member of the Godhead who acts as an advocate and intercessory (as a go-between) is Jesus Christ for the Father when we pray to Heavenly Father. However, both Christ and Heavenly Father will communicate with you directly and do so.

The difference between the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Ghost – Yes, they are different – it’s an interesting topic.

Relationship with the Savior – collection of talks about a direct relationship with the Savior. Includes quotes by President Nelson and Ezra Taft Benson.

Each Member of the Godhead Talks to You – includes excerpts from Elder Andersen and the Doctrine and Covenants

Spiritually Defining Memories – General Conference talk by Elder Andersen which clarifies the Godhead

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10 Comments

  1. Carrie Perucca

    I love your site. It has been a huge help in preparation for my relief society lessons. Thanks for your time and efforts in organizing the concepts of the talk.

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Carrie – I hope your lesson goes well. I’m so appreciative of teachers who take the time to prep and reach for additional resources. You bless your group so much!

      Reply
  2. Rachel Scheese

    This was so incredibly helpful to me. Thank you for putting so much time and effort into helping others!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Rachel! You are awesome!

      Reply
  3. Rachel Scheese

    This was incredibly helpful to me. Thank you so much for the time you spent putting this together! Please know it is so appreciated!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Hello Rachel,

      Thank you for your very sweet note. I’m so happy to have sisters like you visiting this site. It deepens this labor of love and makes it even more worthwhile. I hope your lesson goes well (or went well.)

      Reply
  4. Karisa

    Shawnie, you have done it again! Thank you! Thank you! I just discovered your site last time I taught and it really helped me. I’m not a comfortable teacher and struggle coming up with discussion questions. These are perfect for what I want to bring out in this next lesson I’m teaching. Your hard work and spiritual insights are truly a blessing in my life!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      I so appreciate your kind feedback. This one was especially hard to do and I had to mull over it again and again. Finally, I decided to call out the possible doctrinal misunderstanding so I didn’t feel like I was spreading it some more. Even then, I wondered if I should have posted it. Sister Johnson made great points that are thought-provoking and will make for wonderful discussion. Inspiration and confidence to you as you bless your sisters!

      Reply
      • Chevy

        I just wanted to add to this comment. I greatly appreciate the help you give on these lessons preps. Not only does it help me as a teacher, but it helps the members who receive the lessons as well. I’ve been a teacher several different times and find that I greatly struggle with it, and your suggestions and comments are always thought provoking and helpful.

        Reply
        • Shawnie Cannon

          Chevy,
          Your honest account is touching and inspirational. I love that you’re looking for resources and preparing yourself. Every lesson improves you and eventually they become easier. Hold to the rod. Good luck with your lesson.

          Reply

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