Teach with diligence
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The Gospel Doctrine class in Sunday School was packed to overflowing. Extra chairs had to be brought into the classroom to accommodate all those who wanted to hear that morning's lesson taught from the Book of Mormon.
The teacher, capable and learned, was well-prepared. An experienced instructor, he had taught the class for several years and was confident, yet humble, in his presentation.During the class, the Spirit of the Lord was felt by the students, who were spiritually stimulated and enjoyed participating in the discussion on various points of the lesson. When the class was over, many stopped as they left the room and thanked the teacher for the fine lesson he had given.
Seemingly, all had gained from the lesson and undoubtedly had been uplifted by the presentation and discussion. Surely, the teacher felt richly rewarded for the time spent in preparing and giving the lesson. Perhaps he even thought, "what finer calling is there in all the Church?"
Down the hall, another class was being held. Instead of meeting in a large room, the class was in the smallest classroom in the building. No extra chairs had to be brought in and there was no rushing to find a seat. Instead, there was just one young girl in the class. It had to be a lonely situation for her and perhaps even a bit awkward.
The teacher was also capable and learned. She, too, was well-prepared and had spent much time in preparation, perhaps as much for one child as the Gospel Doctrine teacher did for a whole roomful of adults. But when she gave the lesson, there was no spontaneous discussion by many class members. Just one rather shy and quiet young girl to answer, although somewhat hesitantly, all the questions; just one young lady to discuss the lesson with.
A nd when the class was over, no one came up to the teacher and told her what a fine lesson she had given. The young girl only faintly smiled to her teacher as she hurried from the classroom. Perhaps the teacher felt disappointed that there weren't more in the class; perhaps she didn't feel that her calling was the finest in the Church.
Two teachers, two classes; one filled to overflowing, the other with only one young girl in it.
There is a great lesson for teachers in the Church - for all of us for that matter - to be learned here. Too often we measure success primarily in numbers, that we are successful as a teacher if we can motivate many to come to hear our lessons. Or we may feel it is not worth our time if there are only a few out to class.
What if there is just one shy young girl to attend our class? Are we then a failure, or at least, not a success? Hardly! Is it worth our time? Certainly!
The teacher of that one child is just as successful and important in the Kingdom as is the teacher of a huge classroom of members. And that little girl, even though she is only one, is in every whit just as important in the eyes of the Lord as each of those attending a big class. Does not the gospel teach us the importance of the "one"? Did not Jesus, the Master Teacher, reach out to the individual in His teachings?
Success in our teaching efforts comes from quality results, not just from numbers.
A nd good results will happen if we follow the admonition of Samuel who said ". . . I will teach you the good and the right way." (1 Sam. 12:23.) The scriptures give us a blueprint for such teaching. Following are five characteristics of a teacher teaching "the good and right way." Undoubtedly there are many more, but these five provide a solid foundation for quality teaching:
1. Prepare thoroughly.
"Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence." - D&C 107:99
2. Be guided by the Spirit
". . . If ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach." - D&C 42:14
3. Be prayerful.
"[TeachT through prayer by the Spirit." - D&C 63:65
4. Live a worthy life.
". . . Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord." - Isa. 52:11
5. Demonstrate love unfeigned.
"No one can assist in this work except he be humble and full of love. . . ." - D&C 12:8
No calling in the Church is more important than that of a teacher. As we "teach the word of God with diligence" (Jacob 1:19), we surely will be able to touch the lives of those whom we teach - even if it is only one - and motivate them to righteous action. Can we settle for anything less?