On One Condition—I Won’t Teach!
October 1974

“On One Condition—I Won’t Teach!” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 41

“On One Condition—I Won’t Teach!”

“Brother Warren, we’d like you to be a member of our next teacher development task course.”

When Brother Morgan called my wife to be a Sunday School teacher he had no intention of asking me to take the basic teacher development course. But he did, probably out of pure inspiration. I felt inadequate and a bit resentful. It would be a waste of time for the class teacher and for me, because I wouldn’t be able to teach when it was over anyway. But when Brother Morgan told me Sister Brower was teaching the course, I agreed to attend on the condition that I wouldn’t have to teach.

During the first class Sister Brower asked questions, and the way she did it gave me courage to respond. I knew if I answered wrong she would cover for me, and soon the answers just came out. If she had squelched that first attempt, it would have been my last.

Whenever I had attended a class before, I always took the back corner seat. After being asked to pray a few times and refusing, I learned to tell the person in charge not to call on me. They were always understanding, but I still sat and shook during the entire class for fear someone would forget.

When Sister Brower asked me to demonstrate micro-teaching, for some reason I said I would—even though I had said I wouldn’t teach. My wife and daughter, who had both taken teacher development, helped, and I picked a subject I felt I knew about—requirements to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. I’ve been a member of that priesthood since I was 12 years old. I was nervous that Sunday, especially since the class was to evaluate how well I did. But it went well, and from then on I felt I could continue and sometime even try to teach.

Role-playing was another exciting part of the course. It was particularly fun to play the role of a bishop while Bishop Dutson played a Sunday School teacher having problems. This brought me out and helped me learn to express myself. I joked with the bishop that I would bump him out of his job.

I never will figure out why Sister Brower asked me to sing a solo when we talked about performing extemporaneously. I certainly can’t sing, and I have never opened a songbook in church. But I remembered singing “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet” when I was a kid, so I thought I could try the first verse. I’ll never forget that.

The time came to try teaching and Sister Brower agreed to be in the room with me; if it flopped, she could take over. Forty-five minutes seemed like a long time. But it has become easier every time, and now I look forward to teaching and I enjoy communicating with the students and having them express their ideas. I remember when I agreed to teach my wife’s class for four weeks when she was unable to teach. The first time I taught was hard, but the more I teach the better I like it.

I have now accepted a call to teach the 11-year-olds. It is a real challenge, because I didn’t know the gospel, but now I’m learning; I feel like part of the Church. Teaching has already given me courage to pray in public, and I’m sure it will eventually help me advance in the priesthood. I’ve always been afraid to become an elder because I thought I would make a mistake and feel ridiculed, but teaching is helping me gain confidence.

The stories in the scriptures about men who have repented and what they later became are inspiring to me. Six months ago I wouldn’t have bothered to open the books.

  • Norman H. Warren is a member of Milpitas Second Ward, San Jose California Stake.