Call this a plea from all the thousands of Sunday School and other auxiliary teachers throughout the Church. Read your lessons. Please.
At the present I serve as the gospel doctrine teacher in our small ward, and my lessons would be so much better if everyone came into the class having read their lessons.
For years, before I became the gospel doctrine teacher, I paid lip service to the idea of reading the assigned scriptures during the week before the class. I’d been in the Church for a while and even before being baptized, I had read my Bible so much that I had many passages of it memorized. Between those remembered scriptures and my experiences I was able to participate enough during class to seem knowledgeable. Plus, the 14 years I spent in Primary helped me a lot to avoid having to commit too much to keeping up with the lessons.
About five years ago, however, the thought occurred to me during the annual writing of my New Year’s resolutions that, besides the usual losing weight resolution, perhaps I could try really, really hard to read my weekly Sunday School lessons. And perhaps I could do it more than just for the four weeks I had lasted the previous few times I had tried.
So I worked on it. I made the assigned Sunday School lesson my daily scripture study and found that I could finish the reading by the weekend. I went to class prepared and realized what a difference it made. I could participate and really know what I was talking about. A side benefit was that I felt like I was truly supporting my teacher as I had promised to do when I raised my hand in a sustaining vote.
Now I find myself in the position of being the teacher and begging people to read their lessons each week. And it’s apparent who does. They are the ones who know what is going on in the stories we study and are able to offer insights that have occurred to them as they studied.
If everyone in the class were as prepared as those who do read their lesson, I wouldn’t have to spend so much time on the background and the narrative of the scriptures, as I had to do last Sunday as we recounted the third missionary journey of Paul. We could jump right in with the application of the scriptures and, as we are supposed to do, spend our time likening the scriptures to our lives.
I thought about this a lot last week when I decided at the first of the week to give my bathroom a good scrubbing. I got all the cleaners out and placed them beside the cleaning gloves and sponges on the side of my bathroom sink. And there they sat for the entire week while I did not give the bathroom a good scrubbing. They were ready a few days later when I finally picked them up, and they were effective in getting the job done, but to be effective, I had to use them.
So it is with our scriptures and our lessons. They can sit there all week and be picked up and toted along to class, but if we haven’t used during the week to study, they haven’t done a whole lot of good.
But I have a plan for my class next week, and I’ll see if anyone reads this column and decides to study their lesson!
I’m going to make (or buy!) a tasty-looking cake and sit it at the front of the class. I won’t even mention why it is there, and if anyone asks, I will tell them that they will find out at the end of class. Then at the end of class I will tell them that not reading the lesson is like having a luscious cake in front of you, knowing it will be good when you cut a slice and eat it, and be able to relish its sweetness. But if you do nothing but look at it sitting in front of you, never slice it, and never eat it, you will never know its sweetness.
The reward is only for those who dive right it and then turn around and share it with others.
A whole new year is fast approaching. It’s not too late to put good habits in practice. Read the rest of this year’s lessons and be prepared to make a resolution that you surely can keep and enjoy throughout the year.
And all your teachers will thank you!