5 Highlights for “My Mind Caught Hold upon This Thought of Jesus Christ” by Elder Andersen

by | May 16, 2023

Circle with spiritual points around it

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

If you’ve ever wondered how to look to Jesus in every thought when so many thoughts occupy your head or what the phrase “all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole” means – this is a great lesson. Elder Andersen points us to some powerful truths which are not typically explored or explained. His talk is inspiring.

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 Elder Neil L. Andersen (unless otherwise noted).


Important Tip: There is more material here than any teacher could possibly use. Please don’t be tempted to march people through all of it. When teaching – less is more. People don’t absorb large volumes of material in a public setting. And they need to talk! I highly suggest you prioritize the quotes in any order you see fit. And then cover your 2-3 most important quotes first. You’ll know which quotes best fit your group.


Lesson Prep

  • If I were teaching, I’d probably do quotes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 3 in that order. But be ready to go out of order if the discussion flows that way.

Files (at the end of this article)


Quote #1 (intro)

This quote makes an excellent introduction to the lesson. This is where we want to end up.

My prayer…is that we will more consciously shape, strengthen, and secure this preeminent thought of Jesus Christ in the chambers of our soul, allowing it to eagerly flow into our mind, guide us in what we think and do, and continually bring the sweet joy of the Savior’s love.

But how do we do that?

Quote #2 (our mind)

Filling our mind with the power of Jesus Christ does not mean that He is the only thought we have. But it does mean that all our thoughts are circumscribed in His love, His life and teachings, and His atoning sacrifice and glorious Resurrection. Jesus is never in a forgotten corner, because our thoughts of Him are always present and “all that is in [us adores] him!” We pray and rehearse in our mind experiences that have brought us closer to Him. We welcome into our mind divine images, holy scriptures, and inspired hymns to gently cushion the countless daily thoughts rushing through our busy lives.

circumscribed in: surrounded by

In geometry, a circumscribed circle means the red outer ring contains the shape and all points.

Circumscribed circle
Circumscribed

(Do you remember the phrase “all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole”?)

With God…all truth, wherever found or however apprehended, is circumscribed into one great whole. Ultimately, there are no contradictions, no quarrels, no inscrutable paradoxes, no mysteries. (Eric B. Shumway – President of BYU-Hawaii 1994)

Elder Andersen listed several things that “circumscribe” a strong, spiritual mind.

  • His love
  • His life and teachings
  • His atoning sacrifice
  • His resurrection
  • prayer
  • remember sacred experiences
  • divine images and hymns
  • scriptures

Note: if you are not using the pdf handout below, write the list above on the board, etc. Or, as an activity, have your group help you pull out the points from the quote.

What meaningful guidance from our dear apostle Elder Andersen. When the scriptures say, “Look to me in every thought,” it doesn’t mean every thought is Jesus Christ – it means that every thought is influenced and connected to the teachings of Jesus Christ in some way. It means He is the filter for how we think, reason, act, and react.

Possible activity: Quickly explain a circumscribed circle in your own words. Give each person in the group a copy of the pdf handout of the illustration above (both color and b&w available). Have people volunteer which of the eight blue (outer) dots is one of their favorites and ask how they use it or why it means something to them.

Possible discussion questions: Have any habits or principles Elder Andersen mentions helped you? Which one? How would you describe looking to Jesus in every thought in your own words? Elder Anderson (and President Nelson) say that power comes from Jesus Christ. What kind of power have you noticed when you intentionally center your life on Him?

Quote #3 (far beyond)

Our love for Him does not shield us from the sadness and sorrow in this mortal life, but it allows us to walk through the challenges with a strength far beyond our own.

Jesus, the very thought of thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far thy face to see
And in thy presence rest.

Amen to this quote. I have found when I pray to have my problems disappear – that doesn’t usually happen. But the prayer that works every time is “Please make me equal to or greater than what I face.” This is a tried and true prayer many times in my life. Once in a significant while, problems disappear, and of course, that is so nice when it happens. Nonetheless, becoming stronger and greater than who I was before blesses all the years that follow. The Lord is in the business of growing strong souls and spiritual muscles – not insulating us.

Possible discussion questions: Have you ever been strengthened or felt resolved after a heartfelt prayer? Have you ever received an answer to a prayer different than expected? Have hard times strengthened you and made you more complete? Why is overcoming trials important to our spiritual and temporal development?

Quote #4 (general conference)

The mind of Alma caught hold upon this thought of Jesus Christ. It changed his life. General conference is a time to understand what the Lord would have us do and become. It is also a time to reflect on our progress. As my assignments have taken me throughout the world, I have observed an increasing spiritual strength in the righteous, devoted members of the Church.

Elder Andersen is spot on. I live for General Conference – a significant infusion of soul power, personal direction, and truth.

Possible discussion questions: How do you feel about General Conference? What have you noticed about its impact on your life? What was your favorite talk from the last General Conference, and why did you like it? How do you feel about your spiritual strength as compared to a year or two ago?

Quote #5 (rigorous)

President Nelson said: “There is nothing easy or automatic about becoming [a] powerful [disciple]. Our focus must be riveted on the Savior and His gospel. It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought.”

By focusing our attention on Jesus Christ, all else around us—while still present—is viewed through our love for Him. Less important distractions fade, and we remove those things that are not in keeping with His light and character. As you continue to attentively catch hold of this thought of Jesus Christ, trust in Him, and keep His commandments, I promise you not only heavenly guidance but heavenly power—power that brings strength to your covenants, peace to your difficulties, and joy to your blessings.

Rigorous but wholly worth every bit of effort! And within our reach.

The effects of focusing on Jesus Christ:

  • our filter of how we interpret others and the world changes
  • distractions fade
  • we find motivation and strength to remove unworthy things from our lives
  • heavenly guidance
  • heavenly power
  • strength to covenants
  • peace among difficulties
  • joy in blessings

Possible discussion questions: As you listened to this lesson – impressions came to your mind of something you could do differently or more of. Does anyone mind sharing what came up for them? (Be sure to share something of your own!) How do thoughts of Jesus Christ help you? Which effect from Elder Andersen’s list has special meaning for you today?

Summary

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.

Final Comment

Elder Andersen is especially good at teaching HOW to have a relationship with Deity. I notice that every General Conference. For example, speakers sometimes remind us to develop our relationship with Christ – Elder Andersen takes it further and outlines how to actually make it happen. I appreciate him!

Thank you for preparing yourself and investigating additional sources. You greatly bless your group! Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach – you have unique insights and gifts the rest of us need.

If you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.” Put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you.


PDFs for Download – click the blue links to view online.


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8 Comments

    • Shawnie Cannon

      I just went through that and you are ultra talented. What an effective, lovely presentation!

      Reply
  1. Meagan

    Thank you so much! I am teaching this talk in Relief Society on Sunday and was having a really tough time figuring out how to approach it. The circumscribed circle concept helps so much for this very visual learner. I can’t wait to share it with my sisters.

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      I hope your lesson went wonderfully! That is such a great topic. I love Elder Andersen. Many blessings to you.

      Reply
  2. Heather Steele

    I’ll turn on a hymn and listen to it on repeat when I’m out watering my mushroom garden. That will keep me centered around Christ.

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      That sounds great! Maybe a variety of hymns?

      Reply
  3. Angela Priest

    Brilliant help! Thankyou

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Thanks. I enjoyed putting this one together.

      Reply

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