For seminary we have to give a devotional. I was assigned the topic “The Premortal Life” and I want to make my devotional memorable so that if the kids in my class are learning something and it’s not just a 5 minute lesson that they hear every Sunday. I just don’t know how to do this… Do you have any ideas? Thank you.
The desire you have to provide inspired devotionals is noteworthy. This desire gives evidence to a heart that recognizes the importance of personal responsibility and accountability when given assignments. My apologies if your assignment has already come and gone; however, this answer will still be beneficial for future devotionals, talks, or lessons you will have the privilege to contribute.
In my youth, I contained the same desire within my heart. I just didn’t want to proclaim a truth; I wanted to inspire hearts (along with a little self-gratification — applause of humankind). As I have matured through personal study and experience I have learned a few principles of teaching/sharing that I hope will bless your life now and in the future.
Principle #1 – Seek to Glorify God
Will God approve of my contribution? Those who love God will be inspired by the words of God whether new or old (even if they hear it every Sunday). Another question we can ask ourselves, “What would God have me teach”?
I have discovered for myself, a personal error, which I try now to correct whenever I am given an opportunity to speak. I would notice while studying for the lesson, devotional, or a simple talk that I would at times say, “I definitely want to share this scripture.” “That is a great quote/concept, I will definitely inspire them with this thought.” The glory surrounded myself.
The glory, to truly inspire hearts and minds in the gospel of Jesus Christ, must glorify God. The transition in my heart and mind then turns to, “It appears the Lord is inspiring my heart and mind toward this scripture. How might I present this scripture that will bring others unto Christ.” This concept is clearly defined by this scripture in the New Testament when John the Baptist declared (John 3:30), “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Principle #2 – Inspiration Flows from the Holy Ghost
The second principle was taught by Nephi when he said (2 Nephi 33:1),
“And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man[/woman] speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.”
The Holy Ghost is given to us when we are baptized and confirmed. The power of the Holy Ghost is enhanced by personal righteousness. If we want to teach with power then we must ourselves be living what we know to be true.
Principle #3 – Seek First Obtain God’s Words via Personal Study
Individuals will only be able to inspire others according to their knowledge and understanding of the topic being discussed. One of the first lessons a missionary is taught (Doctrine and Covenants 11:21),
“Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.”
What scriptures, lessons, or talks have you studied that will provide you with sufficient knowledge to present this topic?
Are there other topics which relate to the current topic being presented that will provide additional knowledge — additional truths?
What time limit have I been given and have I studied sufficiently to be concise? This question brings to my heart and mind the words of Lehi who said (2 Nephi 2:30),
“I have spoken these few words unto you all, my sons, in the last days of my probation; and I have chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet. And I have none other object save it be the everlasting welfare of your souls. Amen.”
Once you have sufficiently sought to obtain God’s words, then choose the good part — What does the Holy Ghost inspire your heart and mind to share?
Principle #4 – Speak with Authority and Power
Talks, lessons, scriptures that inspire have been given by those who have received witness and know for themselves. Nephi shares with us why he desired to see, hear, and know for himself (1 Nephi 10:17),
“And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous so that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.”
Further evidence to this principle, Words of Mormon 1:17,
“For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority.”
In the New Testament, they said this of our Savior (Matthew 7:29), “For he taught them as one having authority.”
Once you know you have studied, the Spirit has inspired your heart and mind, you can then share your thoughts with power and with authority because you know God will confirm your thoughts.
Principle #5 – An Everyday Lesson can be Inspirational
The last principle I will share, sometimes the everyday lesson (one they may hear every Sunday) is the best lesson to declare. If the Lord wants a particular principle or doctrine repetitively taught, then that is the best content to deliver.