"Small and Simple Things" by President Dallin H. Oaks Discussion Ideas

I love President Dallin H. Oaks's "Small and Simple Things" because it means that the small things that I do actually matter. It is so easy to pass up the small and simple things because they are well, small, but you also don't usually see the immediate impact they will have- at least not all of it. 


It is interesting to note that President Oaks states that he isn't the first one to speak about these things but that it is important enough to speak about these things again. 


  • What are some small and simple teachings in the gospel?
  • Why is it so important to remember the significance of the small things? Why are they important to you?
  • How have you seen the power of small things in your life?
  • What are some good small and simple things you are doing? 
  • What are some small and simple things we should avoid doing? Why is something so small such a big deal?
  • How has scripture study, prayer, seminary, or institute made a difference in your life?
  • In what ways is repentance a small and simple thing?
  • What are some small things that you might need to give more time to?
  • What's the secret to accomplishing these small and simple things consistently and continuously?
  • Who can help us paddle our boat upstream?
  • What things do we not do because they seem too simple to actually work?
  • How has the small things like prayer and scripture study produced firmness, steadfastness, deepening devotion, and more complete conversion to Jesus Christ and the gospel for you?
  • How can consistently doing the small things blessed you?
  • What are some small and simple things that you perform that may have a positive impact on others?

Discussion Ideas

The Church suggests the following for this talk, "President Oaks’s message contains metaphors that teach how small and simple things can have a powerful effect for good or evil. These metaphors include tree roots, a team of rowers, rope fibers, and dripping water. Members could read these metaphors and discuss what they teach about the power of doing small and simple things consistently. What are the small and simple things that bring the influence of the Holy Ghost into our lives? Invite members to ponder what they are impressed to do to follow President Oaks’s counsel."

These are my ideas. My hope is that reading my thoughts will be a springboard to finding the right plans for your class. Remember you are leading a discussion, not teaching a lesson so you may only need one of these ideas.

  • Use this small and simple things object lesson and free printable to help introduce or end your discussion.
  • Do an object lesson with flowers. Hand out single flowers to several members in your class. Each can either have a note about a simple act or ask the individual to come up with their own. During class ask each to come up and mention the small thing and put their flower in a vase. By the end all those small little nothings came together to make something big and beautiful.
  • Use my free Small Things booklet the week before you teach to write down all the simple things others did for you throughout the day or the simple things that you chose to do. Use them as an example in your lesson about how much the little things meant to you or ask someone else to do the same and share.
  • To demonstrate the fact that small things can also have a negative effect, use the Mormonad where there is a grasshopper in the ice cream (or do it for real).
  • Use the example of what many a parent has said to their children- "If you cleaned it every day, it wouldn't be so hard to clean on the weekend." It's a great tie in to repentance.
  • Start with a "Would You Rather" question to get the discussion going: "Would you rather have small daily miracles or one giant one at the end of your life?"
  • Ask people what they do on a typical day (or what they did last Friday). Multiply that day times 1,000 and what do you think the consequences are? If it's prayer, you develop a better relationship with Christ for example but if you binged watched TV for hours everyday that would result in a lack of spirituality and more.
  • Tell the story about Moses making the brass serpent for the people to look at and be cured. Do we avoid doing things because it seems like there is no way that would actually work?
  • Use President Ballard's example of the rope fibers. If you do good small and simple things everyday you are winding your fibers into a great rope to help you climb higher. However, if you are doing those small and simple things that aren't so good, you are winding your fibers into a rope that will bind you instead. 
  • See what conversation you can get going by doing a small and simple thing- post the above quotes everyday on your ward's Facebook page with a discussion question. By the time Sunday rolls around, you are sure to have people ready to discuss! PLEASE NOTE: Because these are image files, not a document to print, it is in a compressed format. That means you need to unzip it before you can open it or you will get an error message. If you don't know how to unzip a file, please see this tutorial. You may NOT alter these images in any way. Thanks!
  • Bring in materials to demonstrate Elder Bednar's example of single frequent drops of water versus a flood of water. This is why we can't rely on big events or General Conference weekend solely to build our testimonies. We must do those small things that really matter. You can use the example of Laman and Lemuel. They repeatedly had witnesses to God's power but continued to lack faith. 
  • Discuss how sometimes doing the small and simple things is hard because we don't see the immediate reward. We so often want to see results right away but often you won't notice the results until you have consistently done something for a long period of time.
  • Read the questions from the hymn, "Have I Done Any Good?" like President Oaks did. Why are these important things to remember as we prepare to repent?