The Highest Education We Can Achieve

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by Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

This is the first in a mini-series on education running this week.

family-home-evening-paraguay-244794-galleryOne of the greatest responsibilities we have as parents is to not only teach our children but to help them learn how to educate themselves now and throughout their lives. No matter what type of education we think is best (homeschooling vs public schooling vs charter schools, etc) we mustn’t forget the most important tool you will use to teach your children, the most important tool they will need to learn to use.

The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important ability that can be acquired in this life. Qualifying for the Lord’s Spirit begins with a desire for that Spirit and implies a certain degree of worthiness. Keeping the commandments, repenting, and renewing covenants made at baptism lead to the blessing of always having the Lord’s Spirit with us. …

Education is wonderful, but being able to feel the Lord’s power and Spirit upon us is the highest education we can achieve. With that, we have power and influence. Without it, we will not be able to navigate in this life. The adversary will pick us off one by one, and we will be drawn off course by the many, many voices that are out there distracting us. With the Lord’s Spirit upon us, we are strong and solid and will be able to walk with Him. ~ Julie B. Beck, BYU Women’s Conference, April 29, 2010 (emphasis added) ~

Having the Spirit to guide us will help us to “survive in enemy territory” as President Boyd K. Packer reminded seminary students last year.  Anyone, young or old, can learn to recognize the whisperings of the Spirit. Here are a few suggestions for helping our children to understand how the Holy Ghost works in our lives. These suggestions are also a good checklist for adults. As President Packer also said, “Discovering how the Holy Ghost operates in your life is the quest of a lifetime.”

Create an environment and climate where the Spirit of God can be.

  • What pictures adorn the walls of your homes?
  • Is there a feeling of order or chaos?
  • What movies, music, magazines, books, and tv programs are you, as a parent, letting into your home? Mothers especially have a great influence here.

Women are like lionesses at the gate of the home. Whatever happens in that home and family happens because she cares about it and it matters to her. She guards that gate, and things matter to that family if they matter to her . . .Sisters, you are each like the lioness at the gate. This means that there has to be some prioritizing. I was taught years ago that when our priorities are out of order, we lose power. If we need power and influence to carry out our mission, then our priorities have to be straight. ~ Julie B. Beck, BYU Women’s Conference, April 29, 2010 ~

♥ Study the scriptures with your children. Read straight from the scriptures. The language may be hard to understand at first but your children will learn the beauty of it. As you read and discuss the words of the scriptures the Spirit will distill upon all helping even the youngest of children to recognize the truth that is contained in them. There is a beautiful article in the August 2010 EnsignTeaching Our Children From the Scriptures” where you can glean ideas to use. You can also read about our own family’s Scripture PJ’S.

♥ Talk about your own spiritual experiences. Some are too sacred to share but others can be shared. Discuss with your children why you made certain decisions when moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Tell them what you experienced, felt, heard so they can begin to understand the different ways the Holy Ghost communicates to us. I’ll give you an example from my own life.

One day my mother-in-law and I were discussing the importance of telling our children when we feel the Holy Ghost or are led by it’s promptings so that they could learn to discern when the Holy Ghost was speaking to them. If they don’t know what the Holy Ghost feels like or how the Holy Ghost communicates to them, our children won’t be able to obtain a testimony. As Elder Bednar said, “A testimony is what we know to be true in our minds and in our hearts by the witness of the Holy Ghost . . .The power of pure testimony…is the result of revelation conveyed by the third member of the Godhead, even the Holy Ghost.”

A couple of weeks after our discussion I was driving down the road with all my children in tow. The radio was going, the kids were talking loudly, etc. but I distinctly heard a voice telling me to slow down as we neared a particular intersection because the car waiting there would pull out in front of us. I slowed down considerably but still had to slam on my brakes to avoid a deadly collision as the car pulled out. My children, of course, wanted to know what had just happened. Remembering the discussion with my mother-in-law, I turned off the radio and explained how I had heard a voice telling me to slow down. I asked them if they knew who was talking to me. My oldest at the time was 7. She answered that it was the Holy Ghost. I then bore a simple testimony that listening to the Holy Ghost had kept us from harm.

Later that day my husband took the kids to get ice cream. He came home telling me that the children had told him what happened on our drive and our oldest had said, “Dad, the Holy Ghost saved our lives today!” He then took that opportunity to share his own simple testimony that yes, the Holy Ghost does save our lives, not only physically but especially spiritually if we will heed his promptings.

From this experience, and others we have shared, our children have learned to listen and follow through when they hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost to their minds.


♥ Help your children learn to differentiate between emotions and the Spirit. This is a little more difficult but very important. When we feel the Spirit we do feel happy, joyful but every time we feel happy and joyful we are not always feeling the Spirit. These quotes will help clarify what I am trying to say here.

To teach by the Spirit is not just a matter of telling inspirational stories or relaying experiences that appeal to the emotions. It is much more than this. In fact, some might confuse an emotional appeal with the gentle working of the Holy Spirit, but they are not necessarily the same. The quiet, peaceful confirmation that comes into one’s heart as he is being taught by a faithful teacher may not be emotional at all in terms of what the world might call an emotional experience. But it will edify or spiritually uplift the teacher and the student. Both will rejoice as they learn and relearn spiritual truths. “Behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart,” and “you shall feel that it is right. (D&C 8:2; D&C 9:8.) ~ Loren C. Dunn,“Teaching by the Power of the Spirit,” ~

 

The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. (No wonder that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to us, for how could the drunkard or the addict feel such a voice?)

Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, “Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.” (1 Sam. 3:10.) ~Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan 1983, 51~

 

Thoughts and feelings are the most common ways the Lord gives His children personal revelation. And therein lies a challenge. Every one of us is a stream of thoughts and feelings. In the midst of that torrent of thought and feeling, the Lord from time to time inserts a thought or a feeling that comes from Him. How do we tell the difference? Before we address that question, there is one thing we need to note first. It has to do with revelation that does not come from the Lord. If something is counterfeit, it means it resembles the original so closely that it is difficult to distinguish which is the true and which is the false. We must ever be on guard against being deceived by our emotions or by revelation from an unworthy source. ~Gerald N. Lund, “Is It Revelation?,” New Era, Jul 2004, 44~

 

The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeño pepper. Both flavors are present, but one completely overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit. (Richard G. Scott)

 

I get concerned when it appears that strong emotion or free-flowing tears are equated with the presence of the Spirit. Certainly the Spirit of the Lord can bring strong emotional feelings, including tears, but that outward manifestation ought not to be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself. ~ Howard W. Hunter, (Eternal Investments [address to religious educators, 10 Feb. 1989], 3)

We have tried to teach our children to just be aware of music, rhetoric, images, beats that would be used to manipulate an emotional response.

♥ Keep a journal of spiritual experiences or promptings you receive. This is helpful as time goes on because as you look back to what has been written you begin to see a pattern of the ways the Holy Ghost communicates to you.  Writing down when we have received a prompting also shows the Lord we are listening and paying attention. Teaching your children to do the same will greatly aid them as they learn to identify when the Holy Ghost is speaking to them.

Teach them to follow through. This is perhaps one of the most difficult things for us to do. President Packer said, “You must learn to seek the power and direction that is available to you, and then follow that course no matter what.” Many times we know what we should do but fail to act because we perceive it will be hard. It’s painful to realize when you have done something wrong or allowed evil to creep into your life or even neglected to do what you know you should have been doing. Our pride is a nasty little stumbling block to following the Spirit.

There have been times I haven’t wanted to pray about something because I already knew what was required of me and I didn’t want to do it. Going back to my journal of spiritual experiences helps me get over myself and realize the Lord really does know what is best. My life turns out so much better when I follow through. I have also learned the truth of Elder Richard G. Scott’s words, “Spirituality yields two fruits. The first is inspiration to know what to do. The second is power, or the capacity to do it. These two capacities come together. That’s why Nephi could say, ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.’ He knew the spiritual laws upon which inspiration and power are based.”

My goal as a mother is to teach my children to recognize when they are feeling the Spirit, to be immersed in it, so when they are confronted with evil they will know it immediately and flee. The first chapter of Moses illustrates this beautifully. Moses first became acquainted with God and His ways. He felt His spirit and power. When Satan came to Moses, Moses was able to discern Satan’s darkness, but only because he first felt of God’s goodness.

“The most important thing in our lives is having the Spirit. I have always felt that. We must always remain open and sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.” ~ Ezra Taft Benson ~

Here are a couple of good talks to further glean ideas for teaching your children about the Holy Ghost and how he works in our lives.

Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit by Vicki F. Matsumori
To Acquire Spiritual Guidance by Elder Richard G. Scott
Helping Children Hear the Still, Small Voice  by C. Terry and Susan L. Warner
Seek the Spirit of the Lord by President Ezra Taft Benson

  • What have you done to teach your children about the Holy Ghost?
  • What do you find difficult about teaching your children about the Holy Ghost?

About Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

Montserrat enjoys classical music, playing the piano, reading biographies, eating gourmet chocolate, and playing a good game of Scrabble. A farmer's wife and mother of nine, she thinks spending time with her family is truly heaven on earth!

4 Responses to The Highest Education We Can Achieve

  1. Liz C says:

    Love the ideas! We use a lot of them in our home, and they really work.

    The most challenging thing I’ve personally found is maintaining a line separating the Spirit from blatant and manipulative situations that elicit a simple heightened emotional response, rather than facilitating space for the Spirit to work. I think sometimes when planning programming, people confuse the two, and settle for the former (high crowd-sourced emotional manipulation) versus the more worthwhile latter (space for the Spirit.)

  2. Paul says:

    The principle of enduring to the end applies to these lessons, as well. Our children will be closer to us some days than others and closer to the spirit some days than others, too. And on those far-away days (some of them are dark-side-of-the-moon days (or weeks or months)), we need to remember to hold on ourselves. The journaling you describe helps us to hold on in those times.

    Similarly, we can teach our children, but we cannot force them to learn. We can offer them every opportunity (and we must!) but in the end they will choose.

    I had an interesting experience with inspiration just this weekend. I sat in a stake priesthood meeting Sunday night and felt impressed that more our family home evenings need to come from Preach My Gospel. My 16-year old was to teach the next night. I later asked him if he had a lesson prepared already (suspecting he had not yet prepared), and asked him to prepare something from PMG. It was hard for him. He was not as familiar with PMG, and couldn’t just find a short New Era article to plagarize / read to us. He grumbled a bit, but in the end, he taught a simple lesson about the priesthood based on PMG, and, while it won’t go down in history as the greatest lesson ever taught, it was wonderful. It was wonderful because he taught basic doctrines about the priesthood, and the spirit bore witness of those simple truths.

  3. Emily says:

    I’m pinning this.

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