Ryan Periga was grinning as he walked to the front of the classroom. Ryan was the president of our deacons quorum, and it was his turn to present our priesthood lesson.
“We’re going to do something a little different today,” he announced. “I brought a jigsaw puzzle, and Brother Warner said we could spend a few minutes putting it together.”
He opened the box and spilled the contents out on the floor. He dropped to his knees and looked around. “Well, give me a hand!” he said.
He didn’t have to ask twice. Typical deacons, we were always eager for something to do, even if it meant working on a simple jigsaw puzzle.
According to the box, the puzzle was designed for three- and four-year-old children. It contained only about thirty large pieces, so it wasn’t long before we had the whole thing finished. The only problem was that one large piece was missing, right in the middle.
“Oh, great,” someone protested. “There’s a piece missing!”
“That’s okay,” Ryan said. “It doesn’t look that bad.”
“What are you talking about?” someone asked. “It looks silly.”
“Because it’s not all there!”
Ryan tried to look surprised. “Is that important?”
“Of course, it’s important! You can’t have a puzzle without all the pieces.”
Ryan nodded. Then he pointed toward the one empty chair in the room. “You might have noticed that Kevin hasn’t been to priesthood meeting for a while. So in a way, we’re just like this puzzle. We’re not complete. Without Kevin we’re not a whole quorum.”
Ryan had made his point. He had taught his lesson so well that each of us understood it perfectly. And we spent the next several minutes discussing ways to bring Kevin back into the quorum.
Ryan proved that you don’t need to be a General Authority to teach a good lesson, whether it’s for a class or for family home evening. Everyone has thoughts, insights, and experiences that can help shape and influence others. Don’t be afraid to ask your adviser, seminary teacher, parents, or companion for their ideas and input. Most importantly, remember to be prayerful. Seek the help of the Lord and invite his help in your preparations and your presentation.
Here are a few ideas for making your lesson a good one.
Look for ways to relate the topic to the lives of those you’re teaching. Ryan’s lesson was effective because he didn’t just talk about quorums. He talked about our quorum. He didn’t simply talk about activating people. He talked about helping Kevin. Quorum unity was suddenly something each of us could relate to.
Next, look for ways to make your lesson come to life. Use object lessons, activities, stories, and discussions. Try to involve everyone. Ryan’s lesson is a good example. While we were busy working on the puzzle, we had no idea there was a point to what we were doing. But we were all involved; everyone was participating.
Prepare early. You can’t start working on a lesson Saturday night and expect it to go well Sunday morning. So start planning as far in advance as possible. Collect your notes and ideas and organize them.
Remember to conclude each lesson with specific ideas for applying what you’ve taught. If, for example, you’re teaching a lesson on service, prepare to challenge everyone to do a good turn during the coming week.
Avoid reading long stories. Most stories—even when they’re well written—don’t have the same impact when they’re read aloud. Try paraphrasing, putting the story in your own words. Better yet, find a story from your own experience that makes the same point.
Use the Tambuli to find ideas. It is an excellent source of stories, personal experiences, and quotations.
If you are going to use scriptures (a good idea for any lesson), make sure each person has a copy.
If you’re going to use an activity or object lesson, be sure that it’s appropriate. Avoid activities that might detract from the spirit of the meeting.
Be your own best lesson. It’s hard to convince a class about the importance of prayer if you don’t pray regularly yourself. But remember, you don’t need to be perfect at something in order to teach about it, as long as it’s something you are sincerely working at.
Be excited about your lesson. If you don’t have enthusiasm for what you’re teaching, probably no one else will, either.
Finally, bear your own testimony of the principle you’ve been discussing.