5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
Elder Ballard has given several influential talks which impacted my life. He may be one of the quieter apostles in the background, but he is truly a visionary. This lesson sets up some great discussion points!
You may 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 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 M. Russell Ballard and in blue (unless otherwise noted).
Quote #1 (Peter, Russell and you)
This story and quote make a nice warm-up for the lesson. Ask your class to imagine themselves back in time and at the scene and how it must have felt – as someone reads the quote.
After Jesus’s Resurrection, as we read in John chapter 21, Peter and the other disciples fished all night without success. In the morning, they saw a man standing on the shore who told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. To their astonishment, the net was filled miraculously.
They immediately recognized that the man was the Lord, and they rushed to greet Him.
As they dragged the net to shore, full of fish, Jesus said, “Come and dine.” John reports that “when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?”
While I was standing on that same seashore, I realized that the Savior’s question was one of the most important questions that He might someday ask me. I could almost hear His voice asking, “Russell, lovest thou me more than these?”
Possible Introspective question: “Throughout the lesson today, and as we read some more quotes, think about that same question inserting your name in place of Russell or Peter. “________” lovest thou more than these?
This quote is more of an intro – go right to your following chosen quote.
Quote #2 (more than these)
Funerals are an ideal time for reflection, rejuvenation, and love. In this quote, Elder Ballard asks us what will be important at the end of our lives when all is said and done?
How would we answer the question “Lovest thou me more than these?”
When we discover a fuller meaning of this question, we can become better family members, neighbors, citizens, members of the Church, and sons and daughters of God.
At my age, I have attended many funerals. I am sure many of you have noticed what I have noticed. When celebrating the life of a deceased family member or a friend, it is rare for the speaker to talk about the size of the person’s home, the number of cars, or the bank account balances. They usually don’t speak about social media posts. At most of the funerals that I have attended, they focus on their loved one’s relationships, service to others, life lessons and experiences, and their love for Jesus Christ.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that having a nice home or a nice car is wrong or that using social media is bad. What I am saying is that in the end, those things matter very little compared to loving the Savior.
Possible discussion questions: What will be important when all is said and done at the end of our lives? By a show of hands, how many of you think maybe your life could use some rebalancing of priorities right now? Hint: Priorities = Actual Time Spent (you could write this formula on the board as you ask these questions.) Would anyone mind sharing one of those priorities you want to increase or decrease? (For me, at the end of my life, I will wish I spent more time and effort on being a giver and receiver of love.) In what ways do you show love to the Savior?
Quote #3 (overwhelming challenges)
I appreciate this nod to our current circumstances. We’ve been through some hard, hard times lately. I find the realism comforting – yet the challenges of the last days are not enough to throw us off course or interfere with great glory.
We need to believe in Jesus and in God’s plan of happiness. To believe is to love and follow our Savior and keep the commandments, even in the midst of trials and strife.
Today’s world is unsettled. There are disappointments, disagreements, distress, and distractions.
President Dallin H. Oaks, speaking in 2017, noted the following: “These are challenging times, filled with big worries: wars and rumors of wars, possible epidemics of infectious diseases, droughts, floods, and global warming.”
We cannot lose our love for and hope in Jesus, even if we face seemingly overwhelming challenges. Heavenly Father and Jesus will never forget us. They love us.
Possible questions: What does the word “believe” mean to you? What is Elder Ballard’s definition of “believe”?
believe: trust, rely on, expect, maintain, accept, regard
Additional questions: When is it hard to believe? What do you do to strengthen your faith when it is maybe harder to believe or even stay active in the Church? (Focusing outward and giving service is one excellent solution.)
Quote #4 (let god prevail)
Elder Ballard quotes priceless President Nelson and a series of some of the most important questions we can ask ourselves during these tumultuous times:
Last October, President Russell M. Nelson taught us the importance of putting Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ first in our lives. President Nelson taught us that one meaning of the word Israel is “let God prevail.”
He asked each of us these questions: “Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?”
Possible discussion questions: If I were the teacher, I would say something like this: “Let’s skim the list of President Nelson’s questions again and see which one stands out to you today and why? (Either hand them a copy of the list or have it upfront on the board) Do not be concerned about covering each one; your class discussion will naturally give airtime to the best ones for your group.
- Are you willing to let God prevail in your life?
- Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life?
- Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day?
- Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other?
- Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition?
- Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?
Additional Questions: Does anyone want to share what that question means personally to them? Has anyone had impressions of something they need to stop doing or start doing by a show of hands? Would anyone like to share some of their thoughts?
Quote #5 (true happiness and neighbors)
This quote thrills me. Elder Ballard describes how I understand the gospel – how much love and service we give is also loving God.
We must always remember that our true happiness depends upon our relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, and with each other.
One way to demonstrate our love is by joining family, friends, and neighbors in doing some small things to better serve each other. Do things that make this world a better place.
What things can you do within your own life to show that you love the Lord first?
As we focus on loving our neighbors as He loves them, we start to truly love those around us.
As a young adult, I was forever influenced by a statement by the apostle Marvin J. Ashton. He said, “Spirituality is not piety…it’s how many people are glad when you walk into a room.” He also said (and I’m paraphrasing from memory), “True spirituality comes from doing acts of kindness not everyone sees.”
Possible discussion questions: Jesus “went about doing good. (Acts 10:38)” What good things did Christ do? In what ways can we also “do good” like the Savior? Why did Elder Ballard emphasize family, friends, and neighbors and serving each other as a way to love Christ? If we focus on others in the same way as Christ – what does that look like to you?
Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about loving the Savior and others more. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.
You are wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to prep yourself for the lesson and sharing your talents with the world. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach – you have important insights into the gospel, and your ward/branch needs you. 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.” Please put the five quotes in any order that makes sense to you. Many blessings to you.