Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gospel Teaching—Our Most Important Calling

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Gospel Teaching—Our Most Important Calling, by William D. Oswald
Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency

I had a professor whom I didn't know at the start of the semester. However, he impressed me in that he never seemed to ask any student their name; he knew us all. While I know that the professors have picture directories at their disposal, I was still impressed that he knew each student by name in his large class.

There really is a difference in being called by name—in fact, I recall hearing recently that each person's favorite word is their own name.

Knowing that gospel teaching in our most important calling, and teaching is a gift of the Spirit (see Moroni 10:9-10), I wonder the reason why being called by name has such an influence on me in teaching situations. While I may not be able to satisfactorily dissect the question and get at the answer to the question, "Why?", I have been reminded of great examples of "how."

Brother Oswald taught:

When we look for a model of the ideal teacher who can show us how to teach the gospel, we are inescapably drawn to Jesus of Nazareth. His disciples called him “Rabboni; which is to say, Master” or “Teacher.” He was and is the Master Teacher.

I can think of scores of examples of Christ calling those he was teaching by name before he taught. Particularly, I recall the first thing that the resurrected Christ said to the boy Joseph Smith in the grove was "Joseph." In addition, the angel Moroni likewise used this pattern:

Joseph Smith said that when the angel Moroni first appeared to him, Joseph “was afraid; but the fear soon left” him. What was it that Moroni did to help dispel this fear? Joseph said, “He called me by name.” Teachers who love their students and call them by name are following a heavenly pattern.

As I'm loving called by name by those who teach me—following that "heavenly pattern"—I want to remember that Christ did/does the same thing. As I look forward to Him calling my name, I'm reminded of the chiasmus poetry of king Benjamin (see Mosiah 5:7-15), where he explained that covenants lead to a change of heart, which leads us to be "found at the right hand of God, for [we] shall know the name by which [we are] called; for [we] shall be called by the name of Christ" (v. 9).

What can I do to be called in the name of Christ: to truly take His name upon me? Many things, including king Benjamin's charge to:

Be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. (v. 15)

I commented earlier that each person's favorite word is their own name. I think I have to take that claim back as I proclaim that I much prefer the name of Christ to my own name.

What's in a name?

There is power in His name.

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