“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”-Dalai Lama
So I have been given a new responsibility with my calling. I’m not quite sure how to feel about it. There are countless reasons why I absolutely love the calling to be the Gospel Doctrine teacher and one of the biggest ones is that there are no meetings and I do all my preparing on my time table whether it be at midnight or 5:00 in the morning or whenever I get a thought of inspiration.
I teach a little different from most people in the fact that I study the lesson material, but I typically have one or two areas of the lesson that I choose to cover but still don’t follow the manual per se. Okay so let’s just admit that I study to know the material and then fly by the seat of my pants where the Spirit directs while standing in front of the class. I don’t even take the manual with me to church. Typically the only things in my hands during the lesson are my scriptures and a notebook full of quotes given by the Brethren. Basically I am not a scripted teacher.
This new responsibility has thrown me for a loop.
The bishop called me into his office a couple of weeks ago and asked me if it were possible for me to mentor an 18-year old young woman who was turning in her mission papers. He wants her to be more prepared to teach the gospel and wanted to give her the opportunity to do so in a safe environment. He thought the best place for that would be in my hands in Gospel Doctrine. He asked that I let her take ten minutes each Sunday to teach a small section of the lesson. I was unsure how this incredibly shy 18-year old would react to the calling of teaching the adults in gospel doctrine.
Yesterday was the beginning of several months of lessons that would be handled in this new way. I hate to admit that it completely threw me off. The lesson seemed to be disjointed and not natural. I know it was hard for me because I had to adhere more to the exact direction of the manual because I had to make it easier for her to do her portion. When she got up I think I was about the only one who could hear her. She hung her head and was almost whispering. The people from the middle of the room to the back kept asking her to speak louder so they could hear. When she was done it took me a while to get my normal flow back going and just as I started feeling better about it, it was time to end. I didn’t realize that ten minutes from the 40-minute class time would make such a big difference.
One of the very few things that have come to me naturally is public speaking. I am aware that it is a gift given to me, but I’m not sure how to teach her how to become comfortable doing something that most adults still fear more than death. I also don’t want her to think that the only right way to teach is my way. Everyone has a different way of teaching and different ways of feeling comfortable in front of others. However I am at a loss as to how to make the lessons cohesive without teaching directly out of the manual which makes me want to poke my own eyes out. I walked out of church a little discouraged knowing that I still have a couple of months of teaching this way.
So any suggestions? I need to make sure that she has a good experience and also gains some skills that will be helpful for her in the mission field and in life as general as a member of the church. I don’t want to make this miserable for her, me or the class.