How I Learned to Study the Scriptures as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher
How I learned to Study the Scriptures as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher
By: Megan Hanson
In the month of May, all the different auxiliaries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will be teaching about the scriptures. The Relief Society and Priesthood will be teaching from Howard W. Hunter chapter 10: “The Scriptures—The most Profitable of all Study”; The Young Men and Young Women will learn about “Why is it important to study the scriptures?”; the Youth Sunday School will be taught “How can I improve my scripture study?” and the Primary will be taught in the third week “The Book of Mormon is another Testament of Jesus Christ.” I love when lessons all come together and my whole family is taught something similar. Our dinner time discussions are so enlightening!
As I was studying Howard W. Hunter Chapter 10: “The Scriptures—The most Profitable of all Study”, there were some quotes that really stood out to me:
Reading habits vary widely. There are rapid readers and slow readers, some who read only small snatches at a time and others who persist without stopping until the book is finished. Those who delve into the scriptural library, however, find that to understand requires more than casual reading or perusal—there must be concentrated study. It is certain that one who studies the scriptures every day accomplishes far more than one who devotes considerable time one day and then lets days go by before continuing. Not only should we study each day, but there should be a regular time set aside when we can concentrate without interference.
This chapter got me thinking. How am I studying my scriptures? There have been times in my life that I have really studied. During High School and College, I took Seminary and Institute classes, so of course I was studying then to get good grades! I remember rocking my babies to sleep holding the scriptures in one hand. I loved this time because it was quiet and peaceful, and I could really feel the Holy Ghost. As a Gospel Doctrine teacher, I was delving into my scriptures daily. I felt like a sponge during that time, soaking up all the knowledge that the scriptures were giving me! But since I’ve been released, I haven’t taken the time to study like that. Honestly, I listen to my scriptures on my phone each morning as I’m getting ready for the day. I think it all comes down to “good, better, best”. Of course it’s “good” that I’m listening to the scriptures each morning, but there is a “better” and a “best” way!
President Hunter taught:
We should not be haphazard in our reading but rather develop a systematic plan for study. There are some who read to a schedule of a number of pages or a set number of chapters each day or week. This may be perfectly justifiable and may be enjoyable if one is reading for pleasure, but it does not constitute meaningful study. It is better to have a set amount of time to give scriptural study each day than to have a set amount of chapters to read. Sometimes we find that the study of a single verse will occupy the whole time.
President Hunter definitely is teaching us the “best” way to read our scriptures! I’ve compiled a list of how I studied the scriptures for my Gospel Doctrine lessons. Of course, there are many ways to study, but these were the most effective for me!
How I learned to study the scriptures as a Gospel Doctrine teacher:
- Summarize the story - once you’re done reading your selected scriptures, try to summarize the story. You can do this in your head or even write it down. Did you read about about wicked King Noah, or the Good Samaritan. Maybe you read about Jesus blessing the sick. Whatever you read, try to think about the story line.
- Find topics/doctrine/principles - what is the main theme of your reading? Maybe there’s one or two verses that really jump out and teach you a specific doctrine or principle. Focus on that. Look up that topic in the Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary. What else do you learn about this topic or doctrine?
- What have our recent General Authorities said about the topic or story? - After studying #2, then look up what our General Authorities have recently taught. Have you seen the new topics search on LDS.org under General Conference? It’s wonderful! Go to the General Conference page on LDS.org and click on the “Topics” in the top toolbar. Type in anything you’re studying. A long list of General Conference talks will come up that all teach about your topic. How easy was that!
- Cross-reference - use the footnotes and the topical guide and cross-reference your story or topic with other scriptures. What can you learn in addition to what you just read? I use this a lot when studying the New Testament. It’s good to know what each of the four gospels teach us about the same story or doctrine.
- Talk to others about your reading - this one is actually my favorite! Whenever I would study a lesson, I would discuss it with my husband before I taught. He always had insights that I never thought about it! We also discuss with each other our daily scripture reading occasionally. I love learning from him and bouncing around ideas and theories!
- Listen to the Holy Ghost - President Hunter teaches us how important it is to prayerfully study the scriptures. Begin with prayer and invite the Holy Ghost in. There are times that I will just sit in silence and try to clear my mind after I’ve read my scriptures. It’s important to give the Holy Ghost time to speak to you!
- “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” - now you are ready to liken the scripture unto you. What can you use in your life from what you learned? How can you apply these doctrines or principles in your life?
To help you with your scripture study, I’ve compiled a great list of reading charts! I purposely only chose charts that focus on daily scripture study – not how many pages or chapters you read!