5 Highlights for “The Things of My Soul” by Elder Rasband

by | Nov 8, 2021

apostle speaking

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

This lesson is especially suited for a productive class discussion. Elder Rasband offers a list of practical and helpful concepts that increase our soul’s well-being.

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 Ronald A. Rasband and in blue (unless otherwise noted).

Quote #1 (things)

Note: this talk has a lot of discussion material – so choose the most important quotes from the following five quotes and perhaps budget the time. Have faith in what sections you feel drawn to teach and in what order you want to teach them!

The intro to Elder Rasband’s talk is fantastic – he calls up deeper understanding by singling out a word and pondering the meaning. His findings are delightful. For me, Elder Rasband is personable and easy to listen to. The questions he asks are an excellent warm-up for this lesson.

My thoughts today are centered on the words of the prophet Nephi, who kept the record of his people following Father Lehi’s death. Nephi wrote, “And upon these I write the things of my soul.”

I used to pass over this verse, thinking the word things was not very elegant or spiritual, not grand enough to pair with “my soul.” Yet I have learned that the word things is used in the scriptures 2,354 times. For example, in Moses: “I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things.” And Nephi’s words: “Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.”

The things of our souls are often clarified and deepened by asking questions.

Possible Questions: Let’s use Elder Rasband’s questions: “What things do you ponder?” “What things really matter to you?” “What are the things of your soul?

As a teacher, I would say something like this:

Elder Rasband asked three questions – see what comes up for you as we listen to the questions he asks us?

Possible activity: Invite someone to write the list of people’s volunteer answers on the board in front. Inviting someone else to be the scribe increases participation and allows you to run the discussion better.

Quote #2 (doubts)

Some simple, concise advice from President Nelson about questions and doubts. Consider if your group could benefit from this quote:

Fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith had a question deep in his soul, and he took it to the Lord. President Russell M. Nelson has emphasized: “Take your questions to the Lord and to other faithful sources. Study with the desire to believe rather than with the hope that you can find a flaw in the fabric of a prophet’s life or a discrepancy in the scriptures. Stop increasing your doubts by rehearsing them with [other] doubters. Allow the Lord to lead you on your journey of spiritual discovery.”

This reminds me of a great piece of advice from Elder Uchtdorf: “doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith”

There are two main ingredients for most doubts I have heard from others: perfectionism and presentism. In other words, they hold up a false, unprecedented bar of “a prophet or apostle must be perfect to be chosen by God.” If I can find a flaw, a mistaken perspective, or a weak mortal moment – that proves he is false. Note that no human from any institution, organization, or science hall could pass said arbitrary litmus test. It’s a set-up for guaranteed failure. From day one in the Bible, the mistakes and learning curves of prophets are documented. Moses was barred from the Promised Land because of a major blunder. Yet, he was still a mighty prophet to the end.

The ability to document mistakes and failures is a false measuring stick. A human who doesn’t make frequent or occasional mistakes is unprecedented (i.e., we have no prior examples). Perfectionism is a made-up requirement – don’t respond to it.

I see presentism a lot too…

People apply their current cultural norms and values and judge former Church leaders from a very different culture and distant time through their limited scope influenced by today’s norms and culture. The truth is, culture in America 200 years ago was sometimes quite brutal compared to today. And 200 years from now, we will likewise be considered occasionally barbaric. Presentism is a false standard to judge people from another era and culture.

I love this quote from the Church History Symposium in 2020:

This experience taught President Oaks to oppose “presentism,” which he described as “relying on current perspectives and culture to criticize official or personal actions in the past.” He said, “Past actions should be judged by the laws and culture of that time.”

Possible discussion questions: How have you managed to work through your doubts in the past? (I find being honest with Heavenly Father and laying the issue on the altar of prayer always results in clarification somewhere. It might be a friend’s simple comment, it might be scripture, a Sunday School class, a book, or it might be a rush of the Spirit – but patient prayer is a great way to handle doubts. Don’t be embarrassed if you feel or have doubts…work through them, conquer them and allow them to propel you higher.) As the last days progress, what do you expect will happen with doubts, criticisms, and opposition to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How can we be prepared to meet up with the resistance and even the persecution? What happens when we let doubters lead our spiritual journey rather than the Lord?

Lesson Organization Notes

Elder Rasband recites seven “things of the soul” for us to consider. There are two ways to cover Quote #3: whole-class discussion or small-group discussion. Both options are covered in this post. However, I recommend the small-group option and include instructions for making small groups easier and more likable – even for introverts. (I’m an introvert.)

If you opt for whole-class discussion, you will likely only have time for Quote #3 and two other quotes (which is fine). If you opt for small-group discussion, you will probably have time for more lesson material.

Quote #3 (7 things)

This section is divided into 3 subsets (A, B, and C). Suggestions for how to use them are located at the end.

Read intro quote to the whole class:

Intro – May I share with you some of the things of my soul? These things apply to all who seek to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. Ten would be a good, round number. Today I am giving you seven with the hope that you will complete eight, nine, and ten from your own experiences.

Subset A

Reader #1

First, love God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Jesus decreed the first great commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”

President Nelson declared his devotion to God, our Eternal Father, and to His Son, Jesus Christ, when he was called to lead the Lord’s Church, saying, “I know Them, love Them, and pledge to serve Them—and you—with every remaining breath of my life.”

So first, love the Father and the Son.

Reader #2

Second, “Love thy neighbour.”

That is not just a good idea; it’s the second great commandment. Your neighbors are your spouse and family, ward members, work colleagues, roommates, those not of our faith, those needing a helping hand, and, frankly, everyone. The essence of “love thy neighbour” is voiced in the hymn “Love One Another.”

President Nelson reminds us, “When we love God with all our hearts, He turns our hearts to the well-being of others.”

Reader #3

Third, love yourself.

This is where many struggle. Isn’t it curious that loving ourselves seems to come less easily than loving others? Yet the Lord has said, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” He values the divinity within us, and so must we. When we are heavy laden with mistakes, heartaches, feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, anger, or sin, the power of the Savior’s Atonement is, by divine design, one of the things that lifts the soul.

Questions for Subset A: What stood out for you today from Elder Rasband’s list so far and why? Which one do you feel you need to work on the most? If you could sum up these three quotes in just one word, what is that keyword? Let’s take a look at “love.” What does it mean to “love God”?

love: cherish, prefer, prize, treasure, care for, worship, adore, choose, go for, admire

Thoughtful Question: Do you need to cherish, prefer, prize, treasure, care for, adore, and admire yourself more? (this is more of an ending and an invitation to be introspective rather than a discussion question).

Subset B

Reader #1

Fourth, keep the commandments.

The Lord has made it clear: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Strive each day to be and do a little better and to press forward in righteousness.

Reader #2

Fifth, always be worthy to attend the temple.

I call it being recommended to the Lord. Whether you have access to a temple or not, being worthy of a current temple recommend keeps you firmly focused on the things that matter, the covenant path.

Questions for Subset B: What stood out for you today from numbers four and five and why? Which one do you feel you need to work on the most? If you could sum up these two quotes in just one or two words, what are those keywords? Let’s take a look at “strive” and “be worthy of.” What does it mean to “strive each day” or to “be worthy”?

strive: try for, exert oneself, aim, go all out, seek, tackle

be worthy of: earn, gain, merit, acquire, harvest

Thoughtful Question: Do we sometimes need to tackle ourselves? (this is more of an ending and an invitation to be introspective rather than a discussion question).

Subset C

Reader #1

Sixth, be joyful and cheerful.

“Be of good cheer, and do not fear,” the Lord has said. Why? How, when challenges face us at every turn? Because of the promise made by Jesus Christ: “I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.”

President Nelson describes the restored gospel as “a message of joy!” And he explains, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

Reader #2

Seventh, follow God’s living prophet.

This may be seventh on my list of things, but it is at the top of my mind in terms of its importance today.

We have a prophet of God on the earth today! Never discount what that means for you. Remember the young woman I mentioned at the beginning. She wanted to know what things matter most. “Follow the living prophet,” I said then and I emphasize again today.

Questions for Subset C: What stood out for you today from numbers six and seven and why? Which one do you feel you need to work on the most? If you could sum up these two quotes in just one or two words, what are those keywords? Let’s take a look at “joyful” and “follow.” What does it mean to be “joyful” or to “follow”?

joyful: elated, enjoyable, heartening, light-hearted, upbeat, cheerful, pleasurable, jubilant

follow: adhere to, act in accordance with, observe, reflect, watch, comply, emulate, regard

Thoughtful Question: President Nelson is a joyful person; how can we better follow him? (this is more of an ending and an invitation to be introspective rather than a discussion question).

Whole-group

Follow the outline above. Because there is so much material, I would make sure everyone has their own copy to read along. You only need to include the actual quotes, not the questions. If you can, pass out quote assignments earlier in the week or even before Sacrament meeting and let people absorb them before they read them out loud. This practice typically upgrades the quality of discussion!

Small-group

Do not read quotes from Subset A, B, or C as a class together. Let the individual groups handle that part. Have people split into 3 smaller groups. Assign one group “Subset A,” another group Subset B, etc. Instruct them to skim through the two or three quotes for their subset and group – on their own and then start discussing the questions together after the quotes. The questions can be discussed in any order and do not all have to be covered.

About 5-10 minutes.

Important preparation for introvert-friendly small groups: Give each person their own copy of the quotes and questions in hand to look at. It’s okay to have all 3 subsets on one sheet as long as they know which subset they’re supposed to focus on. Also, walk around and listen to each group for a bit without directing their conversation. Validate and nod. Only jump in if they are highly challenged, and no one is talking.

At the close of the discussion time, have each group elect a spokesperson to summarize their group’s ideas. Allow others to add comments as you go along. Expect about 15-20 minutes total for Quote #3.

Quote #4 (Naaman)

Invite your class to consider what their own personal River Jordan might be as they listen to this quote.

So it was with Naaman, a great military leader in Syria, yet a leper, who was told that the prophet Elisha could heal him. Elisha sent his messenger to tell Naaman to wash in the River Jordan seven times and he would be clean. Naaman scoffed. Certainly there was a mightier river than the Jordan, and why send a servant when he expected Elisha, the prophet, to personally heal him? Naaman walked away but eventually was persuaded by his servants: “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?” Naaman finally dipped seven times in the Jordan and was healed.

The account of Naaman reminds us of the risk of picking and choosing the parts of prophetic counsel that fit our thinking, our expectations, or today’s norms. Our prophet continually points us to our own River Jordans to be healed.

The most important words we can hear, ponder, and follow are those revealed through our living prophet. I bear witness that I have sat in counsel with President Nelson to discuss weighty matters of the Church and of the world, and I have seen revelation flow through him. He knows the Lord, he knows His ways, and he desires that all of God’s children will hear Him, the Lord Jesus Christ.

My River Jordan: My husband and I recently went to the temple after a long absence (a significant move halfway across the US and other difficult circumstances made it hard to go previously.) I can testify with amazement how much empowering grace settled upon my soul just being there. Both my husband and I were so touched, we made a commitment to each other to go at least twice a month from here on out.

Possible discussion questions: What are some examples of personal River Jordans? (prayer, scriptures, music, family, friends, General Conference, ministering, temple, service, Sabbath day, etc.) Do we sometimes pick and choose what inspirations from President Nelson, we’ll adopt and follow? What can we do when the prophet gives counsel we initially feel uncomfortable with?

Quote #5 (summary)

This quote makes a great closing quote if you still have time.

I close with an invitation for each of you to consider the seven “things of my soul” I have shared today: love God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior; love your neighbor; love yourself; keep the commandments; always be worthy of a temple recommend; be joyful and cheerful; and follow God’s living prophet. I invite you to identify your own eight, nine, and ten. Consider ways you might share your heartfelt “things” with others and encourage them to pray, ponder, and seek the Lord’s guidance.

Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about the things of your soul. You might want to volunteer what your 8, 9 and/or 10 soul things are. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.

Final Comment

Hurrah for Israel! We have a prophet and personable, lovable apostles. Blessings to you as you prepare a meaningful lesson for your group of Saints. Teach with confidence; if you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.” Have faith…you were asked to teach this lesson for a reason.

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3 Comments

  1. Heidi Awbrey

    I love this talk! I am a list maker anyway, but when he told me to write the last three items, the things of MY heart that weren’t already on the list, it felt like a gift. I get to personalize the things of my heart! I agree with this list and am so grateful for prophets! I made a handout for Relief Society with the first 7 listed and the other three blank with room to write so we can all discuss the things of our hearts!! Great review and study points! <3

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Heidi,
      I absolutely love your handout idea, especially since you as a teacher are prompting a great discussion. We need discussions – it upgrades our church experience, our fellowship, and our connection to our own testimony. Bravo – hope your lesson goes well.

      Reply
      • Heidi Awbrey

        Thanks! I love this resource too – In our ward we are not calling teachers in Relief Society but offer the opportunity to lead discussions. Every person gets something different out of every talk. We’ve heard the talk, now let’s talk about it!

        Reply

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