Q&A: Questions and Answers
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“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Sept. 1994, 17

Questions and Answers

Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

How do I cope with others who are irreverent and disrespectful in Church classes or at Church activities?

New Era

It’s fun to be around people who are joking and saying funny things. The trouble is, some people who are good at clowning around don’t quite know when to stop and be serious. And there are many times when it’s important to know how to be reverent and attentive.

One of the purposes in attending Church classes and activities is to learn more about Heavenly Father. We know from prophets and Church leaders that the Lord often speaks quietly to his people in a still, small voice (see 1 Kgs. 19:12; 1 Ne. 17:45; D&C 85:6). In fact, the Lord has told us that knowledge of him comes in quiet times. “Be still and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16).

There are times for fun and laughter, but there are other times when we need to pay close, quiet attention to our teachers. In the Church, teachers and leaders are asked to donate their time for our benefit. Some are better at preparing interesting lessons than others, but each teacher deserves the courtesy of being listened to. Sometimes the most meaningful lessons are taught by inexperienced teachers who are sincere and prayerful in their preparation.

The after-school seminary class in Hemet, California, prepared a list of ideas about how to handle the situation when others are irreverent. Here are their suggestions:

First, try to set a good example by not joining in or laughing with them.

Second, don’t make a big deal out of it in class.

Third, suggest that rules of conduct and consequences be established.

Fourth, if someone’s behavior is consistently inappropriate, the teacher or leader should meet with that individual in private to discuss the problem and find a solution.

And the last bit of advice the class suggested: don’t ignore the problem. It won’t go away.

Nearly every reader who wrote in knew that setting a good example was a good way of handling the situation, but sometimes you can do more. One easy thing that will help a lot is to encourage your teacher. After the lesson, tell your teacher something you enjoyed about the lesson. Everyone appreciates a thank-you and a word of support, especially teachers.

If you are in a leadership position, such as president of your class, you can bring up the subject of reverence before a class or activity. You can help your group decide on some rules of conduct. Perhaps those who are disrupting the class don’t realize that what they are doing has gone too far.

Remember how the Lord has asked us to act in his house. When we are in a place of worship, we need to remember that reverence is one way we can show our love and devotion to the Lord and his Church.


First of all, you can’t make someone be reverent. Be a good example. Most of the time something in their lives isn’t right, and if you can help with that, then chances are the person will start being reverent, and you’ve got a good friend.

Michael P. Graff, 12
Brussels, Belgium

Try politely asking the group to stop and remind them of where they are. If they persist, you might want to talk to a leader to help stop them.

Alissa Haslam, 14
Houston, Texas

Here are a few pointers:

—Discuss your social life before or after the class or activity.

—Realize you only have to be reverent for a little while.

—Try conducting or organizing an activity. You’ll show more respect once you know what it’s like.

—Set an example. Others will follow it.

Lori Barber, 14
Knoxville, Tennessee

I’ve learned that it just makes it worse to tell them to be quiet. I would just ignore them and try to set an example at activities and in classes.

Heather Feuz, 15
Tabernacle, New Jersey

Be extremely positive, and remember to esteem your brother as yourself (D&C 38:24). It also helps to show Christlike love by treating them, and all people, as they should be treated.

Katy Dunster, 17
Midland, Michigan

You can lead the way. Show others the importance of reverence by practicing it yourself.

Elder Ephraim Hanks, 19
Australia Sydney North Mission

Try to set an example by listening quietly and paying attention. It’s important to be respectful of those that have spent time to prepare a lesson or activity.

Alison Last, 13
Centerville, Utah

If your friends aren’t doing the right thing, that’s their problem. Just be your normal self. Do what you know is right.

Rani Hunt, 12
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Stay by their side all the way and make sure that you also have a positive attitude to help out.

Katherine Gilbert, 14
San Diego, California

Photography by Welden Andersen

Noah tried to warn his people, but they were disrespectful of a prophet of God and refused to listen. They lost everything because they did not heed his warning. Your teachers and leaders are called to teach you. If you are disrespectful or refuse to pay attention, you may not learn things taught by our modern-day prophets essential to saving your spiritual life (see 1 Ne. 22:20). (Painting Noah’s Preaching Scorned by Harry Anderson.)