Sunday morning, my Relief Society instructor announced somewhat sheepishly that she had prepared her lesson the night before. She then proceeded to read from the Teachings of the Presidents manual. I prepared myself for a long, boring lesson that I wouldn’t take much from. To my surprise, the class was great, and I wound up making more notes in my manual than I had by studying on my own. A big part of that was due to the fact that several other women in the class had read the lesson beforehand, and had sincere and thoughtful comments.
Anyone who has ever taught a lesson – planned or unplanned – knows that times will arise when teachers are less-than-ideally prepared. There may be a sickness or emergency that arises that just cuts into the time. A project from work may result in more hours being spent at the office, cutting into your personal life. You may be suddenly called to fill in for a teacher. And, frankly, sometimes you may just forget that you have the lesson this week, especially if you rotate with other teachers.
For all of these reasons, we as members need to prepare ourselves for the lessons. We need to read the appropriate scriptures for Sunday School. We need to study the manual for the lessons from the Teachings of the Prophets, or find out what lesson is planned for the fourth Sunday, the Sunday when we study talks from General Conference.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote in a letter to Religious educators that “each person must learn the doctrines of the gospel for himself.” He went on to note that the primary responsibility for gaining gospel knowledge rests upon the individual, then the family, and finally the church. In short, if we come out of a class learning nothing, part of the responsibility is ours if we failed to do our part.
There were a wide variety of thoughtful comments made, and I don’t know if all of them came from members who had read the lesson. Some of the women surely skimmed, or were inspired at the time, or put things together immediately. However, in my experience, I take more from lessons read and pondered in advance than I do from those I simply sit in on. The Spirit is stronger in my heart, and I feel as though I am learning what Heavenly Father wants me to learn. I can contribute more to the discussions, and I learn more in studying on my own than the teacher can possibly cover in a 40 minute block.
When we are in school, we study and prepare for the classes if we want to receive high grades. As we prepare ourselves for Sunday School, can we do any different? Aren’t the things we learn at church and through our personal study time far more important than the things of the world? Isn’t the spiritual knowledge we take with us more important than our high school or college transcript? Please, please read the lesson in advance and contribute to your class discussions. It won’t take you long to see the blessings in your life.
….and check the daily breakdowns of the Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society/Elder’s Quroum lessons on this site!