Bednar and Keeping Things Simple

Mar 5, 2019
3 min read

On Feb 28, 2019, at a Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction, there were some great things that Elder Bednar had to say.


In a very informative and entertaining unscripted role play with a real ward council, Bednar started off by saying this:

“I will never ask a question that has one right answer that you have to say.”

I thought that this was such a great thing for a teacher, parent, or instructor to say. I think that we can often do a disservice to our people and children when we play “guess what’s in my pocket” and try to get people to fish for what is in our mind; I’m guilty of this from time to time.

This profound statement implies that the answer doesn’t lie hidden in the mind of the brilliant instructor but that the learner has the power within themselves to solve a problem. This is tremendously empowering and I think it honors the contributions of others rather than glorifying the instructor.

Next, he asked this question to the group regarding the two previous speakers:

“What did you hear, I’m not asking you what was said, but what did you hear in the words of Elder Renlund and Elder Stevenson?”

I liked this as well, he wasn’t looking for them to simply try to remember and parrot off words that were said, he was asking them to reflect on what stirred within them because of what was said. Quite often, when a speaker is speaking, the Holy Spirit will interject and I will hear something completely different than what was being said.

I think Bednar was subtly working to try and involve the Spirit in the discussion. I know that these two examples made a profound impact on me and will no doubt influence the way I interact in all teaching situations.


Throughout the role play, Elder Bednar repeatedly emphasized the importance of simplicity. Here are a couple of highlights from my notes, and keep in mind that those not in direct quotes are likely paraphrased.

Is it possible to have a simple ward temple and family history plan that is not so burdensome and bureaucratic that it gets in the way?

He did say “burdensome and bureaucratic” and whatever we do in this church, we have to avoid anything becoming that; it cannot be said enough.

We don’t do simple plans well, we do complicated plans that nobody pays attention to.”

I loved this comment because it is true and great to hear from an apostle. Our complex plans seem to always fail and with that failure comes disappointment and guilt that we could have done more.

How can we have a simple plan to get them to the temple?

We over-program this too often in the church, we formalize it too much.”

The objective of the plan is to have simple, basic, fundamental targets to this plan.

These quotes came in response to the group trying to find a simple solution in their role play.

We have a tremendous capacity to be innovative and create new stuff. Let’s keep it simple and use what has already been created.

I was guilty of this very thing. My last run as an elders quorum president involved a lot of innovation and “new stuff.” I thought I was pretty darn clever but all that work, all those complex plans were failures that nobody paid attention to. I know from my own sad experience that his words here are true.

The simplicity of what we have just seen needs to happen again, and again, and again, all over this earth.

After coming to a simple solution, Bednar emphasized the need for us to repeat these patterns of simplicity.

It seems like there is a massive and ambitious push to improve the culture of the church and eliminate the burdens and bureaucracy which have long plagued our people. I’m all for a positive revolution toward simplicity and the rooting out of vain traditions.

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