5 Highlights for “Think Celestial!” by President Nelson

by | Oct 5, 2023

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5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

Were you as relieved as I was to hear from President Nelson at this last General Conference? How wonderful to hear from our extraordinary 99-year-old prophet, Russell M. Nelson. Of course, he gave us outstanding counsel to help us face this fallen world.

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 President Nelson (unless otherwise noted).

Lesson Prep


At least a week ahead of time, I would assign 2-3 people to read a quote from the lesson and be ready to share their thoughts on that quote in class. Try to ask people who don’t speak up all the time. The discussion quality often increases when you give people time to think about the quotes and/or questions.

Please do not worry about covering every quote! Quality discussion makes a lasting impact; sometimes, your group needs to discuss one topic more than another.


Printable Files


Quote #1 (invitation)

We love President Nelson for delivering deep doctrine in easy-to-absorb steps. First comes his bold invitation to “Think Celestial”!

Here is the great news of God’s plan: the very things that will make your mortal life the best it can be are exactly the same things that will make your life throughout all eternity the best it can be! Today, to assist you to qualify for the rich blessings Heavenly Father has for you, I invite you to adopt the practice of “thinking celestial”! Thinking celestial means being spiritually minded.

You can stop the quote here – it’s enough to discuss questions and get the class warmed up. Then, if you want, add the second paragraph or skip to quote #2.

Mortality is a master class in learning to choose the things of greatest eternal import. Far too many people live as though this life is all there is. However, your choices today will determine three things: where you will live throughout all eternity, the kind of body with which you will be resurrected, and those with whom you will live forever. So think celestial.

Possible discussion questions: What are some gospel-taught habits that make your life better? Is life better with prayer and scriptures? Is life better as a peacemaker? How do you feel about life when your spiritual habits are in order? President Nelson names three things that are affected eternally by our choices in life. What are they? (where you live eternally, what glory of body you will have eternally, and whom you will live with eternally) Why does that matter to you?

Quote #2 (think celestial)

Possible engagement/invitation: Encourage listeners to notice if something comes up that they need to think about in more celestial terms.

When you make choices, I invite you to take the long view—an eternal view. Put Jesus Christ first, because your eternal life is dependent upon your faith in Him and in His Atonement. It is also dependent upon your obedience to His laws. Obedience paves the way for a joyful life for you today and a grand, eternal reward tomorrow.

When you are confronted with a dilemma, think celestial! When tested by temptation, think celestial! When life or loved ones let you down, think celestial! When someone dies prematurely, think celestial. When someone lingers with a devastating illness, think celestial. When the pressures of life crowd in upon you, think celestial! As you recover from an accident or injury, as I am doing now, think celestial!

Possible discussion questions: What does “think celestial” mean to you? By a show of hands, did something come up for you that needs more celestial thought? Does anyone mind sharing something? What’s an example of taking the short vs. long view in your life? How is obedience a part of thinking celestial?

Lesson Organization Notes

This next section is divided into three groups (A, B, and C). You can choose between traditional whole-group discussions, like you did for Quotes #1 and #2, or small-group discussions.

Well-structured small-group discussions are an excellent way to effectively cover a lot of material in a short amount of time. If you have 12 or more people, please consider them. Even introverts enjoy small-group experiences when well-structured (more tips at the end of quote #3).

Quote #3 (mini-quotes)

Instructions: If using whole-group discussion, read quotes A, B, and C aloud together and discuss the questions after each one is read.

If using small groups, divide the class into several groups of 3-5 people now. Let each group direct their own discussion. Tell them they can pick any or all of the three quotes together and discuss them as a group. Don’t worry about which ones they pick – what your class needs to talk about most will rise to the top. (More detailed instructions at the end of quote #3)

No matter which discussion style you choose, ensure everyone has a copy of the three quotes (and questions if using small groups). [Printable PDF download at the end of this article.]

Quote A

A – As you think celestial, your heart will gradually change. You will want to pray more often and more sincerely. Please don’t let your prayers sound like a shopping list. The Lord’s perspective transcends your mortal wisdom. His response to your prayers may surprise you and will help you to think celestial.

…Our prayers can be—and should be—living discussions with our Heavenly Father.

Question A: What is the difference between a shopping list prayer and a living discussion with Heavenly Father? What have you found that helps your prayers be powerful and effective in your life? Has anyone felt more resolve and strength after a deep, heartfelt prayer?

Quote B

B – As you think celestial, you will find yourself avoiding anything that robs you of your agency. Any addiction—be it, gambling, debt, drugs, alcohol, anger, pornography, sex, or even food—offends God. Why? Because your obsession becomes your god. You look to it rather than to Him for solace. If you struggle with addiction, seek the spiritual and professional help you need. Please do not let an obsession rob you of your freedom to follow God’s fabulous plan.

Weak things can become strong to us. What if we allowed our addictions to become a signal to engage with God instead of a bad habit? For example, reading scriptures, praying, singing hymns, writing letters to ourselves (or troubling people and then ripping them up), walking and meditating, giving service, being anxiously engaged, writing in a journal, and many other positive prompts.

Question B: Addictions are prompts that something unpleasant is happening deep down. How can we turn to God instead? What have you replaced bad habits with, that worked for you? Has anyone ever defeated an addiction with God’s help? What did you do?

Quote C

C – Thinking celestial will also help you obey the law of chastity. Few things will complicate your life more quickly than violating this divine law. For those who have made covenants with God, immorality is one of the quickest ways to lose your testimony.

Many of the adversary’s most relentless temptations involve violations of moral purity.

Question C – What violations of moral purity surround us? Why is it essential to defy the gravity of those? What are some ways you have resisted those temptations?

Whole-group

Follow the outline above. Because there is so much material, I usually give everyone their copy to read. You only need to include the actual quotes, not the questions. If you can, pass out quote assignments earlier in the week or before Sacrament meeting. This allows people to absorb them before reading them aloud and upgrades the quality of the discussion!

Small-group

[See a PDF download at the end of this article.]

Do not read quotes A, B, or C as a class together. Let the individual groups handle that part. Have people split into smaller groups (3-5). Instruct them to skim the quotes independently, share their favorite parts, and discuss the questions together as a group. The questions and quotes can be addressed in any order and do not all have to be covered.

It takes about 5-10 minutes. You will likely have to stop the conversations, and that’s okay!

Essential preparation for introvert-friendly small groups: Give each person their own copy of the quotes and questions to look at. 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 (voices)

“Never take counsel from those who don’t believe.” So simple.

As you think celestial, you will view trials and opposition in a new light. When someone you love attacks truth, think celestial, and don’t question your testimony. The Apostle Paul prophesied that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

There is no end to the adversary’s deceptions. Please be prepared. Never take counsel from those who do not believe. Seek guidance from voices you can trust—from prophets, seers, and revelators and from the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, who “will show unto you all things what ye should do.” Please do the spiritual work to increase your capacity to receive personal revelation.

This piece of counsel is profoundly prophetic. The prophet is warning you. We’ve come to an era where families are divided by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s not merely that some don’t believe; it’s far worse as we experience anger and enmity from relationships we never expected to respond to us in that way. That’s part of the prophecy of the last days. President Nelson is preparing you. It’s the signs of the times. There may come a time when some of us have to choose between Christ and loved ones.

Possible discussion questions: Why is it essential to be aware of the amount of opposition and false information that surrounds our society and culture? What are some positive ways you’ve found to respond to attacks on your faith by those you love? (accept any reasonable answer; mine is to establish a boundary and show love.) What are some ways we can increase our capacity to receive personal revelation? (Personally, I’ve found studying President Nelson’s general conference talks for the last few years has a lot of great, specific advice about personal revelation.)

Quote #5 (tithing)

This is probably one of the best tithing stories I’ve ever heard at a General Conference. It’s worth reading if you have time.

As you think celestial, your faith will increase. When I was a young intern, my income was $15 a month. One night, my wife Dantzel asked if I was paying tithing on that meager stipend. I was not. I quickly repented and began paying the additional $1.50 in monthly tithing.

Was the Church any different because we increased our tithing? Of course not. However, becoming a full-tithe payer changed me. That is when I learned that paying tithing is all about faith, not money. As I became a full-tithe payer, the windows of heaven began to open for me. I attribute several subsequent professional opportunities to our faithful payment of tithes.

Paying tithing requires faith, and it also builds faith in God and His Beloved Son.

Possible activity: Invite 3-5 people to share their tithing testimonies.

Summary

Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about President Nelson’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.

Final Comment

Like you, I am excited to have more counsel from President Nelson to teach and discuss. Thank you so much for being prepared to share and participate in this wonderful, much-needed conversation. 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.” May the Spirit bless and guide your efforts.


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6 Comments

  1. Yvette

    Thank you so much for all of the time and thought you put into your teaching helps. I appreciate them so much.

    Reply
  2. Shannon Taylor

    My sister’s name is Shawnee 🙂

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      My daughter’s name is Shannon

      Reply
  3. Shannon Taylor

    You have no idea how helpful your lesson helps are! Thank you so much for sharing your gift; I really appreciate it!

    Reply
  4. harrisonalene

    There are a number of what appear to be typos in this article but I think are a computer-generated response to some unknown trigger. (The word “God” is inserted in the middle of another word twice, for instance.) Perhaps you could check it and see if it can be fixed? I am sure you would be happier with it and so would we who love your work.

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Thank you, very odd spellchecker glitch. I hope it is fixed.

      Reply

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