5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
Jeffrey R. Holland is a master storyteller. It seems he can take any set of verses, any story from the scriptures large or small, plus random gospel concepts and deliver an excellent, meaningful General Conference talk. He excels at connecting the dots for us in personable ways. This message is perhaps a bit pointed at times. Nonetheless, I’m supremely grateful Elder Holland tackles tough topics. Peace, both what we give to others and what we receive from the Savior, are at the core of his message.
You will be inspired as to which of the quotes below are most important for your group of Saints. If it were me, I’d make sure to cover Quote #2 and Quote #5 first and the rest as time permits.
His complete talk can be found 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 which resonate the most with you and which you feel will 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 Jeffrey R. Holland and in blue (unless otherwise noted).
Quote #1 (tossed with tempest)
This is a great intro to the topic: the world is chaotic and troubled, the Savior miraculously bestows us with peace and well-being despite it all:
…the Book of Mormon was written for a latter-day audience, these authors (who experienced so much of war themselves) prophetically warn us that violence and conflict will be a signature characteristic of relationships in the last days.
So, in a world “tossed with tempest, and not comforted,” as Jehovah said it would be, how do we find what He called “the covenant of … peace”? We find it by turning to Him who said He would have mercy on us and “with everlasting kindness” would grant peace to our children. In spite of frightful prophecies and unsettling scriptures declaring that peace will be taken from the earth generally, the prophets, including our own beloved Russell M. Nelson, have taught that it does not have to be taken from us individually! So, this Easter let’s try to practice peace in a personal way, applying the grace and healing balm of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ to ourselves and our families and all those we can reach around us. Fortunately, even astonishingly, this soothing salve is made available to us “without money and without price.”
He said this to them (and to us):
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. …
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. …
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Possible questions: Do you notice peace being taken from the earth? During the “Come, Follow Me” Book of Mormon study last year, did you find any parallels between Book of Mormon times and our present-day? What does Elder Holland mean when he says peace will be taken from the earth generally, but we can have individual peace? When do you typically take advantage of the Atonement? (during the Sacrament, hopefully frequently during prayer?) How do the words “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” affect you? (For me, it is comforting to know I’m not duty-bound to fret and worry – I have HIS permission and encouragement to be trusting and upbeat.)
Quote #2 (powers of heaven)
Elder Holland reminds us to look upward in all things:
…in this worldwide congregation today are many who struggle with any number of challenges—physical or emotional, social or financial, or a dozen other kinds of trouble. But many of these we are not strong enough to address in and of ourselves, for the help and peace we need is not the kind “the world giveth.” No, for the truly difficult problems we need what the scriptures call “the powers of heaven,” and to access these powers we must live by what these same scriptures call “principles of righteousness.” Now, understanding that connection between principle and power is the one lesson the human family never seems able to learn, so says the God of heaven and earth!
And what are those principles? Well, they are listed repeatedly in scripture, they are taught again and again in conferences like this, and in our dispensation, the Prophet Joseph Smith was taught them in response to his own version of the cry “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In the cold, uncaring confinement of Liberty Jail, he was taught that the principles of righteousness included such virtues as patience, long-suffering, gentleness, and love unfeigned. Absent those principles, it was certain we would eventually face discord and enmity.
Sometimes, we not only try to save ourselves spiritually, but we also try to save ourselves temporally. The Heavens stand ready to help us in all things when we adhere to timeless principles.
List of principles:
- patience: tolerance, restraint, endurance, fortitude, calmness, composure
- long-suffering: uncomplaining, easygoing, charitable, accommodating, forgiving
- gentleness: kindness, tenderness, humanity, sympathy
- love unfeigned: heartfelt, sincere, wholehearted, real, authentic, uncontrived
Possible activity: Display or pass out this list of Elder Holland’s principles with their definitions. Have class members volunteer which principles or the accompanying word definitions stand out for them today. Why?
Possible questions: Which words catch your attention and you think, “oh, I need to work on that one!”? Where does righteous indignation fit in? (that’s a tease question, there is no such thing as “righteous” indignation. Indignation is an inferior emotion/trait) Have you ever successfully worked on these traits? How did you do it? (Personally, I post the word where I have to see it every day and I say it out loud too, I also pray for a larger heart and greater understanding – which helps my forgiving too). How can we feel more genuine love for others? (humble our self-view, repent, pray for charity)
Quote #3 (swearing)
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone confront the practice of swearing, but Elder Holland comes down hard on it:
Consider the coarse language that parallels sexual transgression, both of which are so omnipresent in movies or on television, or note the sexual harassment and other forms of impropriety in the workplace about which we read so much these days. In matters of covenantal purity, the sacred is too often being made common and the holy is too often being made profane. To any who are tempted to walk or talk or behave in these ways—“as the world giveth,” so to speak—don’t expect it to lead to peaceful experience; I promise you in the name of the Lord that it won’t. “Wickedness never was happiness,” an ancient prophet once said. When the dance is over, the piper must always be paid, and most often it is in a currency of tears and regret.
I admit I’ve become complacent with the swearing that is heard just about everywhere. It’s so common that I hardly wince or notice when it happens. Elder Holland reminded me I do need to care!
Possible questions: Who can sum up what Elder Holland says about swearing? How do you feel when you’re around someone who swears? What happens to the Spirit? How do you feel after you swear? What can we do when someone swears a lot around us? How have you asked them to stop? What works and what didn’t work?
Quote #4 (abuse)
Abuse is a tough, uncomfortable topic but it needs to be said. I am so grateful Elder Holland chose to speak about this.
Or perhaps we see other forms of abuse or indignity. How doubly careful we have to be as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ not to participate in any such behavior. In no case are we to be guilty of any form of abuse or unrighteous dominion or immoral coercion—not physical or emotional or ecclesiastical or any other kind. I remember feeling the fervor of President Gordon B. Hinckley a few years ago when he spoke to the men of the Church regarding those he called “tyrants in their own homes”:
“How tragic and utterly disgusting a phenomenon is wife abuse,” he said. “Any man in this Church who abuses his wife, who demeans her, who insults her, who exercises unrighteous dominion over her is unworthy to hold the priesthood. … [He] is unworthy to hold a temple recommend.” Equally despicable, he said, was any form of child abuse—or any other kind of abuse.
Possible questions: Do you agree with Elder Holland’s statement? Why would he bring up such an uncomfortable topic? Is it okay for us to discuss abuse in church?
Quote #5 (peacemaker)
Elder Holland, once again, minces no words with his message. Have you ever spoken unkindly to someone at home? I have recently – and I’m repenting in sackcloth and ashes. Jeffrey R. Holland extends a clear invitation to each of us to upgrade our demeanor and tame our second-nature reactions at home.
In too many instances, otherwise faithful men, women, and even children can be guilty of speaking unkindly, even destructively, to those to whom they may well be sealed by a holy ordinance in the temple of the Lord. Everyone has the right to be loved, to feel peaceful, and to find safety at home. Please, may we try to maintain that environment there. The promise of being a peacemaker is that you will have the Holy Ghost for your constant companion and blessings will flow to you “without compulsory means” forever. No one can employ a sharp tongue or unkind words and still “sing the song of redeeming love.”
Elder Holland addresses explicitly how family members treat each other. Notice he says everyone has the right to be loved, feel peaceful, and find safety at home. For most of us, that didn’t happen. For those of you who have (or had) significant obstacles from childhood to overcome – first, know you are in the majority. Do not feel singled out nor exceptional and alone in this. Most people, as in 90% or better, did not experience that ideal family life. Second, another way to say what Elder Holland taught is: Everyone, especially you, deserved to be loved, to feel peaceful, and to find safety at home. Whether that happened or not does not detract from your spectacular lineage, essence, and worth. Nor does it reduce your chance at future greatness.
The important, more profound spiritual lesson we hopefully absorb at some point is – let the Savior help you heal, help you find closure. With His help, you can transcend your wounding and hurt. The capacity is within you. Your soul has the suitable DNA to rise above and to decide its quality and level of adulthood. Your personal power comes from looking forward and dissipates when you look backward. (For more help on the topic of forgiveness, see “When Forgiving is Hard”)
Back to our own accountability – which is the most crucial spiritual consideration of all. What manner of being do you choose for yourself? Elder Holland’s promise to you is significant: “The promise of being a peacemaker is that you will have the Holy Ghost for your constant companion and blessings will flow to you “without compulsory means” forever.”
Possible questions: By a show of hands, have you ever spoken unkindly to someone in your family? How can we change unkind verbal habits and instant reactions? Why is it imperative we do so? What are some methods you have tried? What have you found that works? What does the term “peacemaker” mean to you?
Remember, the Heavens call you to lead this lesson for a reason. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach. Teach the quotes in any order that makes sense. Thank you for taking the time to prepare yourself! Covering these tough topics is a service to your group of Saints. We are not Zion yet, and the lessons you teach bless all of us.