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Becoming acquainted with the Spirit - and the promptings of the Spirit - is a process that grows throughout one's life; it is not something that happens all of a sudden, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve told Church educators Friday evening, Jan. 8.

Elder Ballard addressed a near capacity congregation in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square at the annual meeting for Church Education System personnel, which includes seminary and institute teachers, administrators and office staff.Proceedings of the meeting were broadcast via satellite to 450 sites throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico for viewing by Church educators.

At this year's meeting, J. Elliot Cameron, commissioner of Church Education, gave a brief address and introduced Elder Ballard. Conducting the meeting was Stanley A. Peterson, associate commissioner of Church Education. Music was by a choir comprised of seminary teachers and principals.

Elder Ballard urged educators to "hear the voice of the Spirit." He told of several occasions when he had felt the promptings of the Spirit, and explained the results of each.

On one occasion, he ignored the promptings, and as a result came close to financial ruin. "Up until that time in my business career, everything that I had done seemed to work quite well, and I hadn't known defeat or substantial losses."

He said he was a bishop at that time and told his wife he thought the Lord should be blessing him. He wondered what he had done to "deserve this awful problem."

"It was a long, hard struggle," he told the educators, "but there was a learning process through that. Because of my suffering through that experience, I came to understand that people can have difficulty in their lives with circumstances that are really beyond their control. After I worked myself through that terrible time, I became a better bishop. The Spirit became a closer reality in my life."

He told the educators, "We get a prompting and we wrestle with the Lord whether or not we are going to respond to that prompting.

"God grant you the blessing to respond to the prompting," he told the educators. "The promptings are often involved in little things. A little nudging can have vast effect if you follow through."

He related other occasions when he felt the promptings of the Spirit: visiting a friend in the hospital, visiting and giving a blessing to a young mother whose life was endangered as she awaited the birth of her third child, and visiting a missionary in a hospital in Argentina and having him transported to a hospital in the United States.

"When my ministry is over, it won't be any talk that I've given in the Tabernacle that will make much difference or will be very important in the sight of the Lord. What will be important, I think, is that I hear the voice and respond to the prompting, that the Spirit might direct me that I might be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to do His will and His bidding.'

Elder Ballard continued: "This is a spiritual work. We are mandated and commanded that we should study the scriptures, that we should know the doctrine, that we should study the history of the Church. [We should] know everything we can know about this marvelous blessing that is ours to work in the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been restored to the earth.

"That we must do, but we must live in such a way that we are worthy to receive the promptings of the Spirit. Then we must be willing to respond to those promptings."

In his remarks, Commissioner Cameron spoke of love. "It is altruistic, unselfish, giving and forgiving," he said. "The feeling of belonging to another heightens concerns for each other's well-being and multiplies the efforts each exerts for the benefit of the other."

He said there is nothing more important to love than people, and that all are precious in the sight of the Lord and are loved by Him. "He is more interested in people than He is in their possessions," said Cameron.

"It is our great privilege to bring light and truth into the lives of those precious people.

"The gospel is the beacon light to guide humanity through life's journey," he said.