Through preparation and love, each young man will be a blessing to the families he home teaches.
Scriptures for each young man.
Pencils for marking scriptures.
Make copies of the handout “Ten Commandments for Home Teachers” for each young man and for the senior home teachers who will attend the priesthood meeting (see page 163).
Make a copy of the handout “Four Families” for each young man (see page 163).
Note to the adviser
We often impress our young people with the responsibility of a calling but then give them little help to fulfill and magnify that calling. This lesson will help you help the young men to magnify their callings as home teachers, not only now but also for the rest of their lives.
This lesson will be much more effective and have a far more lasting influence on the young men if their senior home teaching companions join with them for this one special priesthood meeting. If your bishop approves, make the necessary arrangements and invitations.
Suggested Lesson Development
Chalkboard and discussion
Put a scale on the chalkboard like the following:
How effective do you think you are as a home teacher? (Ask each young man to think about where he would place himself on the scale you have put on the chalkboard.)
Explain that home teachers represent the Lord, the bishop, and the quorum president as they go home teaching.
Where do you think the Lord, the bishop, and the quorum president would like you to be on the scale? Discuss the responses and mark the consensus on the scale.
Tell the young men that you are going to spend the rest of the lesson time helping them become more effective home teachers.
The Effective Home Teacher Cares for and Serves His Families
First handout and discussion
Give each young man and visiting home teacher a copy of the handout “Ten Commandments for Home Teachers.” Briefly discuss each “commandment” to make sure the young men understand why it is important. Emphasize how keeping each of the commandments can demonstrate that they really care about each member of the families they may be assigned to home teach. For example:
The Schmidt parents are young and have three little children. They are converts to the Church and are very faithful about everything asked of them. One of their children is often sick, but they are very cheerful about the problem. Their oldest child is almost eight years of age. The Schmidts are well educated and enjoy classical music, poetry, and good stage plays.
The Murdock family is an older couple with one teenage daughter living at home. Their other children have all married and have their own homes. The teenage daughter at home has become uninterested in the Church and has quit attending Church meetings. She associates with quite a rough crowd and is a great worry to her parents. Her main interest is in the movies and collecting match boxes.
The Johnsons are good people, but they are less active. They let the home teachers into their home, but they do not get involved in any Church functions. They have teenagers in the home as well as younger children. None of them go to church. The teenagers are outdoors enthusiasts and love spending time in the wilderness.
Sister Lopez is a sweet, older member of the Church. She tries very hard to get to Church each Sunday, but it is difficult for her. Sister Lopez has a “green thumb” and has many thriving plants inside and a beautiful garden outside. She is lonely and loves to have the home teachers come to visit her.
How can making an appointment with the family show that you really care about them? (You show respect for their privacy and their time commitments.)
Continue with the second commandment and so forth until you have briefly discussed all ten.
Second handout and discussion
Give each of the young men a copy of the handout “Four Families.”
Read each profile together. There will not be time to discuss each of the ten commandments as they might relate to the four families, so it is recommended that you pick three or four of the commandments to serve as examples of what a good home teacher would do. You may want to consider numbers 2, 3, 8, and 9.
Ask questions like the following:
How could you make your prayers as home teachers more meaningful as you go to visit the Schmidt family? The Murdock family? The Johnson family? Sister Lopez?
Continue these kinds of questions until you have discussed three or four of the ten commandments and applied them to all four families. Be sure to keep in focus the importance of caring for and loving each family and each individual family member.
How I Can Be a Better Home Teacher
Tell the young men that you are going to tell them a true story about a young man like themselves who was a good home teacher. Ask them to listen for the commandments of home teaching this young man kept as you read the story.
“Recently … a man and his teacher-age son were assigned to our family as home teachers. We knew of the father’s dedication to the gospel but did not know what to expect from his son, although the young man’s appearance and conduct seemed to reflect the same dedication. During their first visit with us, I kept my eye on this young man. Though reasonably quiet, everything that he did or said brought dignity to the priesthood he bore. Soon they learned that our young son had passed away a year ago and that we were expecting another child. From that moment on they were a special part of our lives as they prayed for and encouraged us. At the conclusion of that first visit I asked the young man to offer a prayer. In his prayer he asked the Lord to sustain us in the loss of our son and to bless the child that soon would be born. He specifically prayed that my wife would have no difficulty in delivering the baby. My wife and I were overcome by the sincerity and sensitivity of this young teacher. During the days and weeks that followed these brethren inquired about us regularly (more often than once a month). Following the birth of the baby, the young man, with his father, brought a gift. As we all knelt in prayer the teacher expressed his gratitude to the Lord for the safe delivery of the child” (as retold by H. Burke Peterson, in “The Role of the Teacher,” New Era, May 1974, pp. 10–11).
Which commandments of home teaching did this young man obey especially well? (Numbers 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10.)
Read the following story about one home teacher’s influence.
“As a boy I always looked forward to the visits of the ward teachers (now called home teachers) to my home. I remember most of all the younger companion, Brother Labelle, who came to our home. Brother Labelle was a young man about fifteen when he first started visiting us. … He was a fine athlete and one of our most promising high school football players. But most of all he was a good Latter-day Saint and I admired how well he bore the priesthood of God.
“He was polite and cheerful to all my family. He didn’t say much, but what he said always rang a good bell with us. I saw Brother Labelle around town, at school, and other places, and I really admired his example. When he saw me, he knew my name and shouted hello. What a privilege it was for me (a boy of about ten) to have him call at our home. Frankly, I cannot remember the senior companion of that priesthood team. I’m sure he was a good man, and we admired him too. But to a young boy in the fifth grade, that fifteen-year-old teacher, Brother Labelle, was really someone. The bishop couldn’t have sent a finer person into my home. The events of thirty-three years ago still ring loudly in my ears because of the influence of that fifteen-year-old teacher” (as told in Priesthood Study Course, Teachers Quorum, Series B , p. T–10).
What are some things that made Brother Labelle so important a home teacher to this young man?
Have each young man and his senior companion mark their copy of “Ten Commandments for Home Teachers” with a check in front of each of the commandments he and his home teaching companion are already obeying well. Allow time for them to do this together thoughtfully. Then have them turn their papers over and make a simple two-column chart like the one following. Have them list the next four months of the year in the month column and which of the ten commandments they want to improve on that month in the right column. Their chart may look something like this:
Commandment to Work On
Pray with families
Make appointments with each family
Recognize birthdays by a short visit
Be more alert to emergencies
Read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:
“Here are some questions every [home teacher] should ask: … “Are you watching over your families as you should?
“Are you ministering to their needs?
“Do you care enough about your families’ welfare that you find out their interests, that you remember birthdays and special events, and that you continually pray for them?
“Are you the first one to the home when the family needs assistance?
“Does the head of the household call on you first?
“Are you attentive to the needs of each member of the family?
“When one of your assigned families moves, do you know where they have moved? Do you make an effort to obtain their new address? Have you checked with neighbors, friends, and relatives?” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1983, pp. 62–63; or Ensign, May 1983, p. 45).
Encourage each young man, with his companion, to work out an agreement to become more effective, loving home teachers together.