I often ask myself how I can be a better teacher. I feel like I am a very organized person and I know how to plan a lesson or a talk to provide information. I feel like I lack the fun or the spiritual side of everything though. While reading this talk this morning, I have realized how much I am leaving out of being a powerful teacher. David M. McConkie tells it perfectly...
You have been called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and have been set apart by priesthood authority.
What does this mean?
First, it means that you are on the Lord’s errand. You are His agent, and you are authorized and commissioned to represent Him and to act on His behalf. As His agent, you are entitled to His help. You must ask yourself, “What would the Savior say if He were teaching my class today, and how would He say it?” You must then do likewise.
Second, you are called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. You must not teach your own ideas or philosophy, even mingled with scriptures. The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation,” and it is only through the gospel that we are saved.
Third, you are commanded to teach the principles of the gospel as they are found in the standard works of the Church, to teach the words of modern-day apostles and prophets, and to teach that which is taught you by the Holy Ghost.
So where do we begin?
Our first and foremost responsibility is to live so that we can have the Holy Ghost as our guide and companion.
“The most important part of your service will be your own daily spiritual preparation, including prayer, scripture study, and obedience to the commandments."
Of course, you must diligently prepare for each lesson and strive to learn how you can teach so as to help your students exercise their agency and allow the gospel to enter into their hearts, but the first and most important part of your service is your personal, spiritual preparation.
The gospel comes to men in two ways, in word and in power. The word of the gospel is written in the scriptures, and we can obtain the word by diligently searching. The power of the gospel comes into the lives of those who so live that the Holy Ghost is their companion and who follow the promptings they receive.
Some focus their attention only on obtaining the word, and they become experts in delivering information (This is me...). Others neglect their preparation and hope that the Lord in His goodness will somehow help them get through the class period. You cannot expect the Spirit to help you remember the scriptures and principles you have not studied or considered. In order to successfully teach the gospel, you must have both the word and the power of the gospel in your life.
After you have prepared yourself and your lesson to the very best of your ability, you must be willing to let go. When the quiet promptings of the Holy Ghost come, you must have the courage to set aside your outlines and your notes and go where those promptings take you. When you do this, the lesson you deliver is no longer your lesson, but it becomes the Savior’s lesson.
“I always know when I am speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost because I always learn something from what I’ve said.” Remember, a teacher is also a student.
Finally, you must stand as an independent witness of the things you teach and not just be an echo of the words in a manual or the thoughts of others.
I know that there is plenty that I need to work on to be a good teacher. I understand the power of the Spirit in a lesson and the importance of teaching for understanding instead of just sharing information. The Spirit is the converting factor and testifies through us if we allow him to. We have to invite him in! This is God's work. We are teaching His gospel. So what does this mean? We have to use God's power to teach His way to help His children!