Thursday, February 11, 2010

Teaching Helps Save Lives

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Teaching Helps Save Lives, by Russell T. Osguthorpe
Sunday School General President

What would you say if you were told that, as a parent, you are a messenger of God? This may sound hard to believe—especially after hard days—but it is exactly what Brother Osguthorpe maintains. He even has evidence:

We are all teaching future leaders of the Church. So we teach key doctrine, invite learners to do the work God has for them, and then promise that blessings will surely come.

His classification of messengers of God includes "all parents and gospel teachers." After recounting experiences of teachers who made great differences in his life, he remarked that each helped to save his life. This led me to wonder: Which teachers have saved my life? Have I saved any lives in my teaching?

The first question is easier to quantify—I have the help of my memory. However, because I'm not those whom I've taught, I cannot say if I've been very successful at saving any lives.

As I considered these questions, particularly the first, I immediately thought of the many teachers I had as a young man. I looked up to these men and still remember some of the lessons I learned from them (both lessons from books and life lessons).

This thought exercise convinced me that Brother Osguthorpe's message is true: teaching does help save lives. These men exemplified what President Monson was quoted as saying:

The goal of gospel teaching ... is not to ‘pour information’ into the minds of class members. ... The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles.

The connection between parents and teachers as life-savers (not the candy) and messengers from God may be in the link between the quote from President Monson and the clear instruction to parents to teach their children to understand (not just know) the doctrines of the gospel (as recorded in D&C 68:25).

It may take more work to inspire thinking, feeling, and doing in children, rather than just teaching facts and behavior by rote, but I believe the results will ultimately be much better.

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