The Spirit is the Ultimate Teacher

by Andrew Wood


We’ve all heard prophets and apostles teach about the magnificence of the rising generation. Recently, Elder David A Bednar said: "Parents and Church leaders frequently emphasize that the young men and young women of this generation have been reserved for this season in the history of the world and are some of the most valiant of Heavenly Father’s children. Indeed, such statements are true." (In “Things as they really are” BYU address May 3 2009)

I, for one, reading these words feel their truth, and am grateful to have prophets in our day that can help us see things as they really are. The Lord knows each of us, and wants us all to return to Him. In these trying times He has reserved a special generation to come forth and ultimately change the world. The Lord said:"Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men.” (3 Nephi 12:13)

Recently, I have given a lot of thought to these truths. Last week the question came to mind “Wait a minute, what about the previous generation?” I hope that in our zeal to buoy up our children and youth, we do not lose sight of the Lord’s love and respect for the parents and guides of this precious generation. Truly the Lord would not send His choice spirits to earth without sending parents capable of teaching them to harness their capacity for righteousness. I know the Lord has a plan for each and every generation. He has sent us to earth to be examples to this rising generation. We must not forget to live up to our divine potential in mortality. We can’t teach our youth to stand up and be who ‘they really are’ unless we are striving to be who we need to be.

The Lord has given us guidance to know how to rear our children. The beauty of teaching in the home is that it gives us the flexibility to custom fit the education to our children’s needs. We know who they are supposed to be. We can help them see it and reach it by reaching it ourselves. It is said that education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire. Can we help them ignite their flame if ours are only cooled embers? Our thirst for knowledge and wisdom will transfer to our children. It’s highly contagious. I am sure you can think of times when your children’s insatiable curiosity has rekindled your own. 

Whether the analogy be fire or salt, we know what the Lord expects of us. We have a duty to Him and to our children. We must be the mentors for the generation "with the greatest capacity for righteousness" (Elder Neal A Maxwell, as quoted by Elder Bednar, Liahona June 2010).

We generally know what attributes we or our children need to work on, but often we are unaware of microscopic flaws in our character that translate into macroscopic issues in the culture of our families and homes. (More on family culture in a later article). By way of practicality, I have often observed that the best introspection is honest and prayerful reflection. Each home, each family, each individual differs greatly. The dynamic of having so many “individuals” crammed together into a “family” can generate "growth experiences" to say the least. 

I wish I could give you a ready recipe for success complete with “To Do” lists and colorful reminders, but the only surefire way to succeed in the home is to ask Heavenly Father how He wants this child raised. Each child is different, and we must be able to adapt to their abilities and limitations, their strengths and weaknesses. The best way to do that is to foster a home where the Spirit is the ultimate teacher, the one who has all the answers to all the questions. If you give a child an answer, you satisfy them for a moment, if you teach a child to receive their own answers from Heaven, they “shall not hunger, neither shall [they] thirst”. That is the path to eternal life and fulfilling our missions in mortality.

The Lord will not leave us alone or abandoned if we but seek His will for His precious youth. He knows we can succeed. He will never set us up for failure. We simply must have the faith to face the challenge of rearing this great generation.

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