“30: Taking Time to Prepare,” Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching (1999), 97
“30,” Teaching, No Greater Call, 97
Taking Time to Prepare
After the resurrected Savior had spent a day teaching the Nephites, He commanded them to take time to prepare for the teachings He would share the next day. He said, “Go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow” (3 Nephi 17:3). You can apply this principle in your preparation as a teacher. As you take time to prepare thoughtfully and prayerfully, you will be blessed with greater understanding. You will be more receptive to the guidance of the Spirit.
Beginning Lesson Preparation Early
You may occasionally receive teaching assignments that require last-minute preparation. But you will usually be able to begin preparation well in advance. This is an important part of teaching. The earlier you begin praying about, pondering, and preparing for your next lesson, the more time you will have to be guided by the Spirit and to look for examples, comparisons, and other ideas to enrich the lesson (see “Recognizing and Following the Spirit in Your Teaching,” pages 47–48; “Looking for Lessons Everywhere,” pages 22–23; “Comparisons and Object Lessons,” pages 163–64). You will have time to ask those you teach to prepare special assignments, such as musical presentations (see pages 172–74). You will also have time to identify and prepare to use resources that are available in the meetinghouse library (see “Church Resources for Teaching the Gospel,” page 105).
It is often helpful to begin thinking about an upcoming lesson soon after you have taught the preceding lesson. You will probably be most aware of those you teach and their needs and interests immediately after you have been with them. You will also be most aware of their response to your teaching. You can evaluate your approach and methods while they are fresh in your mind.
Finding Joy in Preparation
One teacher described the joy that comes when we take time to prepare:
“Many have discovered the joy of teaching the gospel, but there is another distinct joy to be found in connection with teaching—the joy of preparation. Often, lesson preparation is seen as a chore and is put off until the last moment. Like a hurried prayer, last-minute preparation becomes shallow and not very effective.
“I have known that kind of preparation myself. It is not pleasant, and it does not build confidence. I have also experienced great exhilaration in preparation. It can be a time of meaningful prayer and profound thoughts. I have found it to be a pleasantly productive time of worship, introspection, understanding, and inspiration. …
“… As I have tasted the joy of preparation, I have discovered great pearls of wisdom and insight. I find I learn far more through my preparation than I will ever have time to teach. …
“Wherever truth is taught, the need for preparation is much the same. Those who develop a path to successful preparation will find a joyful experience awaiting them” (“Random Sampler: Planning to Teach,” Ensign, Oct. 1995, 73).
Taking Time for Personal Preparation
Remember that in your efforts to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is not enough to simply prepare lessons. You also need to prepare yourself. Take time to study the counsel in this book about what you can do to prepare yourself spiritually to teach the gospel (see pages 11–20). Also, plan to attend teacher improvement meetings. In these meetings you and other teachers and leaders will come together to learn methods of teaching the gospel that will help you increase in skill and confidence.