5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
Elder Eyring hit it out of the ballpark with this General Conference talk. He expounds on one of the most valuable commodities of our day – knowing how to be guided by the Holy Spirit. This talk has deeply touched me, and it has propelled me into some lovely, prayerful experiences. I hope you experience it, too.
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 Henry B. Eyring (unless otherwise noted).
- If I were teaching, I’d probably do quotes #1, #4, #5, #2, and #3, in that order.
- Please don’t worry if you only get through a couple of quotes. Spiritual discussion is golden; it resonates and teaches more than a lecture covering all points will.
- If the discussion gets too secular, pull it back to the quotes and a spiritual tone…naturally and with tact.
- Encourage discussion by accepting all reasonable answers. Validate people for participating and be thankful they spoke up. Engage with the answer in a conversational way whenever it feels natural. Never say, “We haven’t got to that part of the lesson yet.”
- Roll with it. The Spirit intends for you to be successful.
Quote #1 (crucial)
This is a quality starting place for this lesson.
As we pray and then heed the Spirit’s promptings, we gain greater insights and blessings to guide us through the increasingly difficult days ahead.
We have heard again President Russell M. Nelson’s warning that “in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
That prophetic warning has led me to ponder what I might teach my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren about how to have that crucial guidance in the difficult days ahead for them.
crucial: pivotal, critical, a deciding factor
Possible discussion questions: How crucial is it to have the Spirit? Elder Eyring and President Nelson are giving us prophetic guidance about the near future; what is it? (accept all reasonable answers – increasingly difficult days ahead and cannon survive spiritually without the constant influence of the Holy Ghost) What are your favorite ways to bring the Spirit into your life?
Quote #2 (daily)
Possible engagement tool: This is a long quote because it includes story-telling. You might help people engage with this quote by asking something like, “As we read this quote by Elder Eyring, he includes an important story from the Book of Mormon. Listen for similarities in their situation, and compare it to our day.”
I would start them to think about and pray about Helaman’s sons, Nephi and Lehi, and the other servants of the Lord laboring with them. They faced fierce opposition. They were serving in a wicked place and had to deal with terrible deceptions. I take courage, and you could, from this one verse from the record of Helaman:
“And in the seventy and ninth year there began to be much strife. But it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi, and many of their brethren who knew concerning the true points of doctrine, having many revelations daily, therefore they did preach unto the people, insomuch that they did put an end to their strife in that same year.”
This account encourages me, and it could encourage you. Helaman’s sons were taught and guided by a series of experiences with the Holy Ghost. This assures me that we can be taught by and learn from the Spirit line upon line, receiving what we need, and then when we are ready, we will receive more.
Lessons from this quote:
- take courage
- know the true points of doctrine**
- have revelations daily
- teach people the gospel
- seek the Spirit
- follow through on the experiences and teachings
- receive more
Possible discussion questions: In what ways can you relate to Nephi and Lehi? -OR- Did you notice similarities between Nephi and Lehi’s time and today? What message stood out for you from this quote? How can we know the true points of doctrine? (study the scriptures, reread general conference talks, prayer, Spirit). Is it possible for you to have several revelations daily? How can we have more revelations? What do you think Elder Eyring meant by “when we are ready, we will receive more”?
**True Points of Doctrine
Sisters/Brothers – we have a sizeable number of traditional and cultural teachings that are not true points of doctrine but floated and passed off as doctrine. Two hundred years of learning curves, old beliefs, and new but incomplete understandings. Thankfully, the Brethren have given us a simple litmus test.
Here is the Official Church Statement on what is Latter-day Saint doctrine:
“Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.”
- Standard works
- Official Declarations and Proclamations
- Articles of Faith
The test for a true point of doctrine is simple. Can you find it in the scriptures? Did it come from a revelation or an angel with a message? Was it ratified by the Quorum of 15 Apostles? (Even our Doctrine and Covenants went through the ratification process).
Here is the official Latter-day Saint statement on the Journal of Discourses specifically:
“The Journal of Discourses is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a compilation of sermons and other materials from the early years of the Church, which were transcribed and then published. It includes practical advice as well as doctrinal discussion, some of which is speculative in nature and some of which is only of historical interest. … Questions have been raised about the accuracy of some transcriptions. Modern technology and processes were not available for verifying the accuracy of transcriptions, and some significant mistakes have been documented. The Journal of Discourses includes interesting and insightful teachings by early Church leaders; however, by itself it is not an authoritative source of Church doctrine.”
Quote #3 (courage)
Possible engagement tool: Ask the class to describe what courage means to them. Then, invite them to listen to how Elder Eyring uses that word.
courage: bravery, daring, fortitude, grit, heroism, valor
I have been encouraged in the same way by the account of Nephi being asked to go back to Jerusalem for the plates of Laban. You remember the choice he made. He said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.”
Nephi’s experience with the Holy Ghost on that errand has given me courage many times when I have embarked on tasks I knew were assignments from the Lord but which seemed far beyond my past experience and beyond what I saw as my capacity.
Possible discussion questions: Do the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit help us accomplish things we might not on our own? Does anyone have an example of this? Why is Nephi’s statement, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded,” so admired and quoted? Have you ever received an assignment that felt like it was beyond your capacity, or you did not know how to accomplish it? Does anyone have an experience like this?
Deeper Insights into Nephi Killing Laban
Nephi didn’t break any commandments.
After watching some people do spiritual gymnastics over this (like my younger self), here is a clarifying perspective.
Laban robbed them and tried to kill Nephi and his brothers, but they ran too fast. Nonetheless, Laban’s servants were still hunting them. They hid outside the city wall.
You couldn’t call 911 in that day. Jewish society didn’t have a sheriff or a jail. They were under Old Testament law. Precise remedies were prescribed for someone who 1) robbed you while attempting to murder you and 2) had an active murder contract out on you and your family members.
Laban recites that law to Laman when Laman makes the first attempt to get the plates.
13 And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee. (1 Nephi 3:13)
False accusation by Laban, but he’s citing a lawful justification to kill Laman.
Your tribe and family had specific Mosaic commandments to carry out the law and justice yourself. There was no other system in place for handling criminal acts, and Laban was a full-out corrupt felon.
When the Spirit talks Nephi through that episode with drunken Laban on the ground – all of the promptings are rehearsals of OT tribal law. The Spirit is prompting Nephi on his obligations for his family’s sake.
Nephi recites OT law to himself that requires a remedy from him:
“Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, and he also had taken away our property.” (1 Nephi 4:11)
The Mosaic law was execution, and Nephi was beholden to that lawful remedy for his family’s sake and the sake of the Jewish societal system.
Nephi’s hesitation wasn’t due to breaking a commandment because he wasn’t. His hesitation was his heart and the difficulty of the task. The Spirit reminds Nephi of the practicality of the task, to act now rather than stalling to secure the brass plates, which they more than paid for with riches.
I hope this helps some of you as you reread this story.
Quote #4 (lost and found)
Here’s a succinct quote about the everyday challenges of keeping the Spirit. So practical!
We need, and you will need, the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Now, we desire it, yet we know from experience that it is not easy to achieve. We each think and say and do things in our daily lives that can offend the Spirit.
When that happens, as it will, we may feel disapproval from the Lord. And we may be tempted to feel we are alone. It is important to remember the sure promise we receive each week as we repent and partake of the sacrament: “That they may always have his Spirit to be with them.”
If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost today, you may take it as a sweet evidence that the Atonement is working in your life.
Possible discussion questions: Who is Elder Eyring referring to when he says, “We each think and say and do things in our daily lives that can offend the Spirit“? Have you ever felt like the heavens are closed to you? When that happens, are we really alone? How does the Sacrament help us? (accept all reasonable answers – it’s like a cleansing and a reset button.) How did you feel about General Conference? What was your favorite talk?…did you feel the Spirit during that talk? What was it like?
Quote #5 (purity)
This is excellent yet simple advice for getting more of the Spirit.
As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said: “Whenever these moments of our extremity come, we must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us or that He does not hear our prayers. He does hear us. He does see us. He does love us.”
That assurance has helped me. When I feel distant from the Lord, when answers to my prayers seem delayed, I have learned to follow the counsel of President Nelson to review my life for opportunities to repent. He reminds us, “Daily repentance is the pathway to purity, and purity brings power.”
It’s easy to conclude that the heavens are closed to us or that our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. That somehow we’re not worthy of that kind of attention. Those are Satan’s whispers of discouragement and despair. A repentant sinner’s words always pierce the cloud cover.
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14)
Repentance is a powerful process that brings great opportunities and blessings.
Possible discussion questions: President Eyring pairs an unusual word, “opportunities,” with repentance. Why is the word “opportunities” relevant? What is one of the best ways to feel close to God and the Spirit? (accept all reasonable answers – quality prayer and heartfelt review and repentance, renewal, progress.) What would you tell a friend who feels Heaven does not hear or answer their prayers? Do you believe in the power of prayer?
Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Eyring’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.
Did I mention I love this talk? I’m thrilled you are preparing to share this talk. It is an enormous saving grace for each of us. I pray you have plenty of the Spirit accompany you when you teach. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach. You are called to teach this lesson for a reason. If you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.” Please put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you.