On Sunday I enjoyed excellent talks from Latter-day Saints who have no formal training in theology or philosophy and have no doctorate degrees conferring on them some kind of inside or additional knowledge about the love of God or his Gospel. The key was that they were well prepared, sincere, and interesting. They invited the Spirit and the Spirit taught us all through the words that the speakers had prepared.
It is true that an assignment to speak often feels like a chore and definitely creates extra time commitments for the person chosen to speak. But the potential for positive influence far outweighs the extra time demand.
We should always put ourselves into the talks that we give, which includes ample preparation and contemplation. We never know the effect our sacrament meeting talk might have on one or more individuals in the congregation. We can exercise righteous influence in their lives merely by sharing our insights, provided we avoid being trite, tendentious, superficial, etc.
One wonderful example became clear to us almost a year after it happened. My wife was having scripture reading with my daughters and the selection was discussing the Holy Ghost. My wife does a great job with scripture reading, having far more patience than I, and goes into some depth on the topics, discussing them in greater detail with the children (my tendency, unfortunately, is to plow through the whole chapter). In discussing the Holy Ghost with my five-year-old daughter, who is greatly enjoying reading the verses herself now, my daughter said, “It’s sort of like the breath of God, isn’t it Mom?”
My wife was surprised, agreed, but wanted to probe more into what my daughter meant. My daughter’s reply was “It’s what the daddy of that girl who lived on our street in Salt Lake talked about at Church.” In discussing it later that evening, my wife and I racked our brains to figure out what our daughter was talking about. We finally remembered that in approximately July or August 2006, Sam MB (from BCC), who had moved into our ward (great home teacher, by the way), had given an excellent talk about the Holy Spirit and had discussed an aspect of it being the breath of God. It was a talk that both my wife and I found very good and were glad to have been recipients of the excellent preparation and profound insights shared in sacrament meeting that day.
But here’s the rub: our daughter, only four years old at the time, had been playing on the floor of the pew with her Noah’s Ark book and coloring the entire time, not giving the slightest indication that she was listening to anything, much less learning something about the Holy Spirit. Nearly a year later, however, she was bringing what she heard that day in sacrament meeting to her own very fledgling reading of the scriptures. She didn’t remember the name of Sam’s daughter (sorry Sam), but she remembered Sam’s talk about the Holy Spirit and the Breath of God.
If we bear the potential far-reaching effects of our sacrament meeting talks in mind, we will certainly take the responsibility more earnestly.