5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
Elder Gong might be our version of Confucius! I say that because of his style – he offers a few words of wisdom but leaves you to fill in the blanks and finish the story. In this talk, he shares several snippets of wisdom about our inner feelings and the soul work we need to do.
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 Gerrit W. Gong and in blue (unless otherwise noted).
Quote #1 (act of faith)
Please note: If I were the teacher, I would budget enough class time for quotes #4 and #5. Those are potentially the most reflective and meaningful quotes from Elder Gong’s talk.
Trust is an act of faith. God keeps faith with us. Yet, human trust can be undermined or broken when:
- A friend, business associate, or someone we trust isn’t truthful, hurts us, or takes advantage of us.
- A marriage partner is unfaithful.
- Perhaps unexpectedly, someone we love confronts death, injury, or illness.
- We face an unanticipated gospel question, perhaps something regarding Church history or Church policy, and someone says our church somehow hid or did not tell the truth.
Other situations may be less specific but of equal concern…
Many today feel a great need to restore trust in human relationships and modern society.
Possible Questions: How does it feel when we lose our trust? What does Elder Gong mean when he says “trust is an act of faith.” How are trust and faith alike? (see word definitions below)
faith: confidence, conviction, hope, loyalty
trust: count on, depend on, look to
Quote #2 (callings)
Callings play an essential part in our growth and development both spiritually and emotionally:
We know that joy on the Lord’s covenant path and callings to serve in His Church are an invitation to feel God’s trust and love for us and each other. Church members, including single adults, regularly serve across the Church and in our communities.
By inspiration, a bishopric calls a young couple to serve in the ward nursery. At first, the husband sits in the corner, detached and distant. Gradually, he begins smiling with the children. Later, the couple expresses gratitude. Earlier, they say, the wife wanted children; the husband did not. Now, serving has changed and united them. It has also brought the joy of children into their marriage and home.
Possible discussion questions: Have you ever had a calling that made you feel closer to God? What was that calling? Have you ever been inspired while serving in a calling? Have you ever had a calling you didn’t want to take, but it turned out well anyway? Why do callings tend to help us grow?
Quote #3 (trust)
This may be the shortest quote, but there is so much wisdom woven into a few words.
Trust becomes real when we do hard things with faith. Service and sacrifice increase capacity and refine hearts. Trust in God, and each other brings heaven’s blessings.
Trust in God is the highest form of worship we can give Him. Trust in others can be a gift we give which revitalizes them, ourselves, and our relationships:
No matter what you may think of him now, Brigham Young was beloved in his time. Most Saints treasured him. He was a monumental leader, and his strength and tenacity made the pioneer exodus to Utah possible. He is the modern Moses of our dispensation. Why was he loved? This quote contains one of the best pieces of advice for getting along with others and establishing community relationships:
“One thing more. You will perceive all the time, this one thing in me, viz., by my conduct, there is no lack of confidence—not a particle of jealousy arises in my bosom towards this people. I never felt for one moment a shadow of doubt upon that subject. I have never seen one moment but this people loved me; although I may get up here and cuff them about, chastising them for their forgetfulness, their weaknesses and follies, yet I have not seen a moment when they did not love me. The reason is, because I love them so well. Do you not know that spirits beget spirits, and likeness begets likeness. I love this people so well that I know they love me; they have confidence in me, because I have confidence in them. You may scan the history of the whole Church, and look over the whole surface of the matter, and did you ever see this people, when they had the same confidence as they have in each other at this day? No, never. And it is on the increase; and this is what will make a community powerful. But if we lack confidence in each other, and be jealous of each other, our peace will be destroyed. If we cultivate the principle of unshaken confidence in each other, our joy will be full…”
Trusting each other has an element of love and grace in it. It is also part of what makes a community Zion-like.
Possible questions: Have you ever had a challenging trial that brought you closer to God? How does enduring hard experiences with faith increase our trust in God? What happens when we serve others, especially if there is a sacrifice involved? (I’ve noticed my troubles and pains subside and become smaller.) Why does God want us to upgrade our relationship with him to a place of trust? What are the side effects of trust? What happens when we gift our confidence to others?
Quote #4 (condemnation vs. forgiveness)
Elder Gong explains this verse beautifully>
Sometimes when our hearts are most broken and contrite, we are most open to the comfort and guidance of the Holy Ghost. Condemnation and forgiveness both begin by recognizing a wrong. Often condemnation focuses on the past. Forgiveness looks liberatingly to the future. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
In the same way, God hopes we will seek to save others and focus on their future rather than condemn them for their past.
Possible discussion questions: Why is it good to experience remorse and feel contrite? (Repentance cleanses us and allows the Spirit to more fully visit us with inspiration). How can forgiveness help us in our relationships? How are forgiveness and the future related? What happens when we focus on the past or on the guilt of others (we are often miserable). How does the parable of the mote and the beam apply to Elder Gong’s quote?
Quote #5 (two sons)
Humility helps us see we are both the prodigal son and the faithful son at other times.
Do you remember Jesus Christ’s parable about a certain man who had two sons? One son left home and wasted his inheritance. When he came to himself, this son sought to come home. The other son, feeling he had kept the commandments “lo, these many years,” did not want to welcome his brother home.
Brothers and sisters, would you please consider Jesus is asking us to open our hearts, our understanding, compassion, and humility, and to see ourselves in both roles?
Like the first son or daughter, we may wander and later seek to return home. God waits to welcome us.
And like the other son or daughter, we are gently entreated by God to rejoice together as we each come home to Him. He invites us to make our congregations, quorums, classes, and activities open, authentic, safe—home for each other. With kindness, understanding, and mutual respect, we each humbly seek the Lord and pray and welcome His restored gospel blessings for all.
So often, we compare our worst with someone else’s Sunday best.
Possible discussion questions: Why do people sometimes quickly judge others? (Perhaps it’s easier to focus on other people’s class of sins rather than our own.) Who needs repentance? Can you be reflective about yourself and recognize a time when you were the prodigal son? What happens when we try to appear perfect or make our family life appear perfect to others? (It puts a lot of social stress and pressure on ourselves and other family members.) What would happen if you felt safe and loved at Church enough to follow the advice of the apostle James?:
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)
Additional questions: What can you personally do to make Church healing and a welcoming place? How can we cut down on gossip? (Sometimes people equate gossip with things that are not true and justify themselves if what they are saying is “true.” – Question: Is gossip necessarily only what is false?)
gossip: defamation, meddling, dirty laundry, back-fence talk
The need to appear perfect or hide our problems and faults is the opposite of James’s counsel. So is gossip. We are each glorious and divine and need permission to shine AND we are flawed and struggling and need permission to tackle such things without imposed shame from others. Both sides of us need the Church, the Sabbath, the ordinances, and the Savior to progress.
A past stake president (Ken Lathen) once said, “We need to spend a lot more time loving and less time judging.”
Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about choosing trust and faith. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.
You are wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to prep yourself for the lesson and for sharing your talents. 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 in what you feel drawn to teach and put the five quotes in any order that makes sense to you. Blessings to you!