5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
I love this talk. I think this is spiritually brilliant! But putting this lesson together took me a while. Some conference talks are linear and have a definite sequence to them. This talk has more of a zig-zag pattern where identical principles are restated throughout the talk. Which is perfectly fine for listening; repetition is good for us! Nonetheless, this style makes crafting a lesson with highlights and a discussion plan a little more complicated.
You can find his 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 with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.
All blue quotes by President Camille N. Johnson (unless otherwise noted).
- The goal is to get your group to talk and discuss with each other. Discussion deepens gospel concepts better than any other teaching method, presentation, or learning tool. It’s far better to deeply understand one golden new thing than to march through 10 “important” concepts that are forgotten by the time they get to their car in the parking lot.
- Think about how the Holy Spirit works…one new impression and thought at a time. If your group spends the entire 50 minutes on one quote and the discussion is hearty, interactive, and spiritual – you scored a huge victory and blessed our Kingdom. (See 9 Tips for More Participation)
- There’s an optional take-home handout – PDF download for quote #1 if it fits your lesson plan and emphasis. It might work better to hand it out at the end of class, otherwise, it’s a reading distraction.
Quote #1 (rocks)
Each of us is carrying a metaphorical backpack…where we carry the burdens of living in a fallen world. Our burdens are like rocks in the backpack. Generally, there are three kinds:
- Rocks of our own doing because of sin.
- Rocks in our backpack because of the poor decisions, misconduct, and unkindness of others.
- And rocks we carry because we are living in a fallen condition. These include the rocks of disease, pain, chronic illness, grief, disappointment, loneliness, and the effects of natural disasters.
Sister Johnson’s backpack metaphor is especially good because she doesn’t blame anyone for having a backpack. The reality is we all have one; this world is fallen. Maybe we can look and see which rocks we’re ready to toss?
The Rock List
- our sins
- poor decisions of others
- misconduct of others
- unkindness of others
- chronic illness
- natural disasters
Possible discussion questions: Are there other rocks? (our own sincere mistakes, learning curves, uninformed decisions which may not be sins – sometimes those might create sizable rocks that we carry around.) How do past events become rocks that we carry? (Sometimes feelings resulting from a past event are unresolved – or forgiveness might be difficult.)
Optional take-home handout – “Sometimes Forgiveness Is Hard“
Quote #2 (easy and light)
I joyfully declare that our mortal burdens, these rocks in our figurative backpack, need not feel heavy.
- Jesus Christ can lighten our load.
- Jesus Christ can lift our burdens.
- Jesus Christ provides a way for us to be relieved of the weight of sin.
- Jesus Christ is our relief.
He said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest [that is, relief and peace].
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
yoke: harness, collar, coupling
Quick discussion questions: What is Christ’s yoke? (keeping his commandments, making and keeping sacred covenants) What does taking on Christ’s yoke mean to you personally – how do you do that?
Quote #3 (stingy)
This is my favorite sequence from the whole talk. It’s almost like she is talking out loud for you and for me. Delightful quote.
Possible engagement tool: Say something like, “Sister Johnson quotes President Nelson twice. See which quote stands out for you today.”
That the yoke is easy and the burden is light presumes we get in the yoke with the Savior, that we share our burdens with Him, that we let Him lift our load. That means entering into a covenant relationship with God and keeping that covenant, which, as President Nelson has explained, “makes everything about life easier.” He said, “Yoking yourself with the Savior means you have access to His strength and redeeming power.”
So why are we stingy with our rocks?
President Nelson has taught, “Jesus Christ … stands with open arms, hoping and willing to heal, forgive, cleanse, strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.”
So why do we insist on carrying our rocks alone?
It is intended as a personal question for each of you to consider.
For me, it is the age-old vice of pride. “I’ve got this,” I say. “No worries; I’ll get it done.” It’s the great deceiver who wants me to hide from God, to turn away from Him, to go at it alone.
Brothers and sisters, I can’t go at it alone, and I don’t need to, and I won’t. Choosing to be bound to my Savior, Jesus Christ, through the covenants I have made with God, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Possible discussion questions: What does Sister Johnson mean by “we are stingy with our rocks”? Which of President Nelson’s quotes stood out for you today? What other part of the quote impressed you? Do you sometimes try to “go it alone”? What helps us yoke ourselves to Christ? (“entering into a covenant relationship with God and keeping that covenant”) Do you believe in a personable, approachable Jesus Christ?
Quote #4 (justice)
Repentance, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, is what relieves us of the weight of the rocks of sin. And by this exquisite gift, God’s mercy relieves us from the heavy and otherwise insurmountable demands of justice.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ also makes it possible for us to receive strength to forgive, which allows us to unload the weight we carry because of mistreatment by others.
Not only are the demands of justice hard on the sinner – the demands of justice weigh heavy on the mind and soul of the person sinned against. We are merciful to ourselves when we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
I love the Aramaic translation of the Lord’s Prayer. (Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.)
Mercy is a powerful force, coming and going. When we receive mercy, we experience tender relief. When we give mercy, sometimes we repent of bitterness and resentment. We enlarge our hearts and souls and experience a transformation. Mercy lightens and liberates us whether we offer it or receive it.
Possible discussion questions: Why is it important to repent? Why is it important to forgive? How would you describe mercy? What happens when we don’t forgive?
mercy: leniency, compassion, grace, forgiveness, goodwill, sympathy
Quote #5 (relief)
So how does the Savior relieve us of the burdens of living in a fallen world with mortal bodies subject to grief and pain?
Often, He performs that kind of relief through us! As covenant members of His Church, we promise “to mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” Because we are “come into the fold of God” and are “called his people,” we “are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.”
Our covenantal blessing is to partner with Jesus Christ in providing relief, both temporal and spiritual, to all of God’s children. We are a conduit through which He provides relief.
Possible discussion questions: By a show of hands, have you ever had your prayers answered by another person? Who would like to share an experience? Have you been an answer to someone’s prayers? Why does the Lord answer prayers through people around us? Why is it important to bring relief to others?
Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Sister Johnson’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.
Do you know why I like this talk? Because Sister Johnson talks about issues and events that take place on the inside. She talks about the parts of our soul that need attention and self-care. We DO need to talk and discuss these “rocks” with each other. Teach with confidence, and if you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.”