I teach the Gospel Essentials class in my ward, and have the privilege of teaching basic doctrine each week. There are basic lessons on faith, scriptures, and prophets; each lesson covers basic tenets of our faith. They’re a joy to teach, because they let me boil down the gospel to its most basic parts—ultimately, it’s at least as instructive for me as it is for the investigators and recent converts that attend.
But while each gospel principle has a lesson dedicated to it, the Holy Ghost has two: one is about the Gift of the Holy Ghost, that we receive after baptism, and the other? It’s about the Holy Ghost as a member of the Godhead. As an entity, a person. Someone with identity and purpose. While our discussion of the Holy Ghost tends to center around the Gift, this hymn, Let the Holy Spirit Guide, is about a person.
Let the Holy Spirit guide;
Let him teach us what is true.
He will testify of Christ,
Light our minds with heaven’s view.
Notice the pronouns—the Holy Ghost is a he. How different is it to think of a person teaching us what is true, and testifying of Christ, than to think of an abstract spiritual concept, a conscience, or some sort of shoulder angel?
When we have some understanding of the Holy Ghost as a person, albeit not corporeal, it changes how we think of being taught by the Spirit. A common concept is that the Holy Ghost teaches us by infusing us directly with knowledge, putting thoughts into our minds that we wouldn’t have had on our own. While this may be true, it does not supplant that we still must learn the same way we learn from mortal teachers—bit by bit, line upon line, starting with the basics and adding complexity when we’re ready for it. The Holy Ghost is an unparalleled teacher, but we’re still the same learners.
Let the Holy Spirit guard;
Let his whisper govern choice.
He will lead us safely home
If we listen to his voice.
Who do you turn to when you have a key decision to make? For me it’s my dad—he’s like a version of myself that has more experience, more knowledge, and who can help me see around corners because of his vantage point. The Holy Ghost is that, and more; he’s like a version of ourselves that has a true eternal perspective, and who can add that insight to our decision-making. If we let his whispers impact our choices, then we will indeed return to our Heavenly home.
Let the Spirit heal our hearts
Thru his quiet, gentle pow’r.
May we purify our lives
To receive him hour by hour.
When our hearts need healing, it can be hard to let others help us. The Holy Ghost has the capability to be the quiet, gentle strength we crave but don’t know how to ask for, of others. The onus is on us, though, to continually receive him and allow him to help us.
It’s a basic, foundational principle, that the Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit. But when we get too far from the underlying doctrine, we forget what is so simple: the Holy Ghost is a person. He wants to teach us, protect us, and heal us. And if we’re willing to let him into our lives—as we do with friends, teachers, and family members—then he will be the best friend we can have.