“Blessed by an Unwanted Calling,” Ensign, Mar. 1994, 57–58
Early in my marriage, I had almost no experience with young children, so I was shocked when I was asked to teach a Primary class for the seven- and eight-year-olds. Believing I was not suited to teaching children, I refused the call and left the bishop’s office. As I approached the front door of the church, my feet began to move more slowly. The closer I got to the exit, the more difficult it was to continue. Finally, I came to a complete stop.
I decided that I needed to pray about my decision. I received a distinct impression that I should accept the call. Still unwilling, but feeling I had no other choice, I went back to the bishop’s office, let him know I had changed my mind, and then accepted the calling.
The class had been labeled a problem class. There were only five children, but already three teachers had given up. The most boisterous member of the class was Paul. He was the natural leader, and the others took their cues from him: when he acted up, so did they.
The first Sunday, little good was accomplished. By the end of class, I felt disappointed by how badly the class had gone, and I knew I needed to try a different teaching method.
While in the military, I had discovered that if one of my men was causing problems, giving that man an important responsibility usually helped solve the problem. After prayerful consultation with the Lord, I decided to try this approach with my Primary class.
I appointed Paul as the class president the next Sunday. I then assigned each child classroom duties. Paul was in charge of helping to keep the others quiet during opening exercises. I was amazed at how well he accomplished his job; the entire class was reverent during opening exercises. Class went smoothly, and at the end, I assigned Paul to help teach the lesson the next week.
I was impressed by how well Paul prepared and taught his part of the lesson. Over the next few weeks, I rotated the teaching assignment among the children, and they started coming to class more prepared.
I discovered just how effective this teaching method was when, one Sunday, I was late to church. By the time I arrived, opening exercises were over and class had begun. I rushed to my classroom, knowing that whoever was substituting didn’t know how the class was run.
I opened the door and found Paul teaching the class, according to the assignment I had given him a week earlier. Sitting near the back of the room, I listened as he finished teaching the entire lesson, using materials I had provided him, and answered questions. He assigned next week’s lesson and checked with me to see if I had any comment. After class I asked Paul which adult had been assigned to teach in my absence.
“No one,” he told me. “I guess no one noticed you were gone.”
I had never been so proud of my class. Paul had seated class members during opening exercises, had taken them to the classroom, had made sure the attendance roll was filled out, and had given the lesson—all without supervision. This was the same child who, a few months earlier, had been uncontrollable.
Heavenly Father knows each of us and knows we can succeed if we have enough faith and are given the opportunity. I have learned to accept callings like this one, through which both the children and I were blessed.