President's Pen 2-27-17 (Inspired Questions)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! “We begin with the End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world!

Elders & Sisters,

We love ya!  I pray each day that you are more focused and more urgent in your efforts to do the Lord’s work.  I have high expectations for each of you know you are striving to serve with all your hearts.  Keep up the great work!

A question… How effective are you at asking inspired questions?  Benjamin Franklin taught, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”  One of the best ways to involve those we teach is to get them talking… To involve them and get them talking is a skill and one that requires effort and practice. We all need to evaluate our ability to ask questions that inspire minds such as the following:  “Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?”  Consider how this simple and inspired question changed Peter’s ministry.  How can your inspired questions do the same for those you teach? 

I love the prophet Alma and I’m amazed by how many inspired questions he asks the people of Zarahemla in Alma chapter five.  In total, there are 50 questions that get to the heart of the doctrine of Christ and our standing before God.  Of these 50, there are nine questions for me that cause me to search my soul, reflect on my faith, repentance, and spiritual well-being.   Do they do the same for you?  As you read each of these inspired questions, what thoughts come to your mind and what feelings come to your heart?

Faith in the Savior and His Atonement

1.       Do you exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? (vs. 15)

2.       Do you look forward with an eye of faith? (vs. 15)

Repentance

1.       Have you experienced this mighty change in your heart? (vs. 14)

2.       Are you stripped of pride? (vs. 28)

3.       How will you feel if you shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? (vs. 22)

4.       Have you walked, keeping yourself blameless before God? (vs. 27)

Spiritual Well-Being

1.       Have you spiritually been born of God? (vs. 14)

2.       Have you received his image in your countenance? (vs. 14)

3.       If you have experienced a change of heart, and if you have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can you feel so now? (vs. 26)

Do the questions above cause you to think, reflect, and evaluate what you might want to do better or differently? Inspired aren’t they. ;)

The Savior was the master at teaching with inspired questions…  “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?”  In the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John, the Savior asks 307 questions.  In “Teaching in the Savior’s Way” we learn, “The Savior asked questions that invited learners to think and feel deeply about the truths He taught.”  His questions assessed the understanding of basic knowledge and eternal truths, they touched the heart and mind, they invited to act, they invited to bear testimony, and they encouraged self-evaluation.  His example to us is one we need to follow…

Following the pattern the Savior used, Elder Bednar has taught that inspired questions can lead to inspired answers. A great example, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?  And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”  Think about how the Savior’s question to Peter lead to a witness of something that wasn’t heard or seen, but felt by the Spirit. Your questions, just as the Savior’s, can lead to inspired answers that will touch hearts, invite action, prompt repentance, and kindle testimonies. 

In the pamphlets we find several inspired questions… How do the questions below follow the Savior’s pattern of asking questions?  What would you listen for as you ask these questions to those you teach?

·         What does it mean to you that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? (Restoration)

·         What is the purpose of your life here? How could this knowledge affect the decisions you make each day? (Plan of Salvation)

·         What does it mean to repent? Why does everyone need to be baptized? (Gospel of Jesus Christ)

·         How can you help the poor and needy? (Tithes & Offerings)

·         How can you gain the strength to keep the law of chastity? (Chastity)

·         How will the Lord strengthen you when you are tempted? (Word of Wisdom)

·         What does God expect of you when you are baptized? (Families & Temples)

·         What blessings will come to you by serving God and His children? (Learning & Serving in the Church)

It has been said that, “The answers you get depend on the question you ask.”  We know yes/no questions won’t get us far.  We know asking questions before we’ve taught principles should be avoided.  We know that we should keep our questions short and specific, but even a poorly stated question is better than no question at all.  When we fail to ask questions as we teach, we can deny the spirit of revelation to work within our hearts and minds.   If you never ask, you’ll never know, and what you don’t know may stop someone from truly progressing.  The Savior simply taught, ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened, seek and you shall find!

Elders & Sisters, if we are to be effective at teaching repentance and baptizing converts, our questions should inspire investigators to ponder gospel principles and help them find ways to apply them in their lives. Our inspired questions are invitations for investigators to discover gospel truths on their own and to evaluate their understanding of and commitment to those truths.  Our Inspired questions will make the lesson we teach more engaging and personally meaningful.  Inspired questions are at the heart of the restored truths we love; all it took was one inspired question and the heavens were opened.  We want the same for those we teach. 

My invitation to you… Will you improve your use of inspired questions?  These questions can come in lessons, on the phone, in a text, or in a note left on their door.  Don’t over think what questions to ask, observe, listen, and discern and thoughts will come to your mind.  Some suggestions as you seek to improve… Use the pamphlets as a guide, study the “Ask Questions” principles taught on pages 183-184 of Preach My Gospel, review the questions of the soul found on page 107 of Preach My Gospel.  In your personal and companionship study write down questions that come to your mind that may be applicable as you teach.  Review the baptismal interview questions and use them as you teach.  Evaluate after each lesson your use of inspired questions (a good test is to ask if you talked more than you listened).  Great teachers follow the pattern used by the Savior; telling and teaching aren’t enough, we must involve and engage through questions that inspire the mind and cause men and women to act in faith. I know this principle is true! Love ya!

President Hall