Last year I wrote a post for most of the George Albert Smith lessons. I enjoyed looking over the lesson, arranging my own thoughts, feeling the Spirit witness to me, and being prepared each Sunday lesson. But, I noticed every Saturday night I would get a huge number of visits to that particular lesson as everyone was trying to prepare at the last minute.
This year I decided I didn’t want to do that. I’m not one to prepare a lesson weeks in advance, but I don’t wait till the last minute either. I have come to learn that these lessons are merely an overview of what the gospel teaches. And to be honest, I felt uncomfortable with people coming to this site to figure out what to do with their lesson. I do not feel like a definitive voice of doctrine. I’m strictly an idea person.
These lessons are meant to be studied and to help us grow closer to our Savior. Something this important cannot be prepared overnight. The Spirit needs time to smolder and catch our hearts and minds on fire to Truth. In fact, each one of us needs this experience…not just the teacher.
I have listened to way too many lessons where the teacher might take the first paragraph of the lesson, but wander onto a totally different path—maybe telling a favorite story, or standing on a personal soapbox, or even teaching just to hear herself talk. It is a waste of everyone’s time and unfortunately the Spirit doesn’t have a chance to bear witness for our benefit.
Teachers—you have the opportunity to teach your sisters how to study for themselves. As you teach, lead the discussion assuming the sisters have read the lesson, and they will begin coming to your lessons prepared to join the stimulating discussion.
Raise the level of learning by teaching from the scriptures and not from personal experience. Where experiences are acceptable and add interest to the lesson sometimes we spend a little too much time talking about ourselves, and not enough about the Savior.
Get to know President Snow. Share stories about his faith; his understanding of the doctrine; his testimony. I personally think it is just as appropriate to learn and discuss Eliza’s (his sister) life and testimony. She was a Prophetess in her time as well.
It is important to discover the doctrine within each lesson. If you are not comfortable with your knowledge, you have a very special opportunity to study it out for yourself. These lessons are for the teacher to not just fill 40 minutes of time reading through a lesson, but to build and sanctify her own testimony of doctrines of the gospel. Study, ponder, read, pray, and repeat, until you can bear pure testimony. Then you can invite the sisters to share their own testimonies.
Lesson 13 is specifically about the Relief Society. (I wish there were more lessons than just this one. I hope you will take opportunity to teach, remind, and talk about often the temporal and spiritual history of Relief Society throughout the year.) This lesson has the potential of skirting the spiritual aspect of Relief Society. Yes, we all serve. Yes, we get things done. Yes, we are important to our families. But, in what way does the Lord depend on us as his daughters? What purpose do women’s gifts serve in the Kingdom of God? What is Lorenzo Snow really teaching the women about the importance of being a woman of God?
Don’t forget to use Daughters of My Kingdom. Finding examples for the various doctrines taught throughout the year may be found there. Continue your own personal scripture study. I can’t tell you how many times I have read in my scriptures something that happens to be applicable to a coming lesson. The Spirit is teaching you when you make those connections. By using Scripture Citation you can draw upon past conference addresses where our General leaders have explained a certain doctrine using just the right words. And don’t forget to align your lesson with the Gospel Doctrine lesson whenever appropriate. That can really wake people up to what’s being taught.
These lessons are to help us understand the doctrines of our gospel better. They are to be pondered so we can integrate what we learn into our lives, making our lives more holy. These lessons are written in a general way to help various people reach various maturities in the gospel. Stretch yourself, through study and prayer, and stretch those who listen to what you’ve learned.