The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand the duties of teachers.
Worthy brethren may be ordained teachers when they are at least 14 years old. A teacher has all the responsibilities of a deacon. He also has additional responsibilities. Since some of us are teachers and others will be someday, we should learn the duties of that office.
Ask class members to read Doctrine and Covenants 20:53. What are some of the duties of a teacher? (List the responses on the chalkboard.)
To be with the members and strengthen them means to get to know them, to participate with them in Church activities, to teach them, to help them fulfill their needs, and to help them serve others.
Ask class members to read Doctrine and Covenants 20:54–55. What are some other duties of the teacher? (List these on the chalkboard.)
Verse 54 tells us that teachers are to “see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking.” Verse 55 tells us that teachers are also supposed to help members do their duty.
There are many ways a teacher can fulfill his responsibilities. For example, he can set a proper example, be a good home teacher, greet the members at church, prepare the sacrament, help at home, and be a peacemaker.
One way we can strengthen the members is through our example. The Apostle Paul taught, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Our lives will influence others no matter where we are or what we are doing. It is important that we be good examples of righteousness at all times and in all places.
Show visual 6-a, “Home teaching is an important duty of the teacher.”
We can magnify our callings to teach and strengthen the members by home teaching. In performing this duty, we should remember that we are entitled to the inspiration of the Lord. The Lord has said that all those who are ordained to preach the gospel are to do so by “the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth” (see D&C 50:13–14).
How can we know what to teach the families we are assigned to teach?
The following story shows how a teacher learned about the importance of home teaching.
“My legs felt shaky and there was an odd feeling in the pit of my stomach as we approached the door. I was sure that I was going to faint as my companion told me that this was ‘my’ door.
“No, I wasn’t a new missionary. I was a fifteen-year-old home teacher climbing the stairs to the apartment of Sister Rice, a widow living in our ward. …
“[My companion] Brother Gabbott had given me a topic to present to the five families assigned us. I was prepared with some notes on a paper, but I was frightened and inexperienced. …
“We knocked on the door, but there was no immediate response. I was about to suggest that no one was home when the door slowly opened. From behind it appeared the frail figure of an aged sister, uncertain of what she’d find at her door. She smiled as she recognized Brother Gabbott. We were invited in and asked to take a seat.
“After a short greeting, Brother Gabbott looked at me as if to say, ‘Okay, Robert, it’s time to give our message.’ The feeling in my stomach got worse as I began to speak. I cannot recall what I said, but as I looked up from my notes, I saw the tear-stained cheeks of that sweet, sensitive sister. She expressed her gratitude for the presence of priesthood bearers in her home.
“I was speechless. What had I done? What could I do? Fortunately, Brother Gabbott helped me by bearing his testimony and asking if there were any needs in the home. There were.
“Sister Rice said that she had not been feeling well and asked that she be remembered as we offered our prayer before leaving. She then turned to me and asked if I would offer that prayer. …
“I consented and offered a benediction upon that home teaching visit, asking that a special blessing of health and strength be given to that faithful sister whom I barely knew but quickly came to love and respect.
“Twenty-five years have passed since my introduction to home teaching in Sister Rice’s home, and she has long since died. But I cannot pass that house without thinking about the experience provided by Brother Gabbott and a faithful sister who knew the appropriateness of calling upon an obedient high priest and an insecure, frightened teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood” (Robert F. Jex, “My First Door,” Tambuli, Dec. 1989, 45).
Like this home teacher, we can strengthen our assigned home teaching families by praying with them, encouraging them to do their family duties, and helping them to live the gospel. If the families we teach need help, we should report their needs to our priesthood authorities.
When we visit our assigned families, we must remember that we do so with the permission of the heads of these families. Because they are responsible to the Lord for their families, we should always teach their families under their direction. Only by teaching under the direction of the heads of the families can we fulfill our duties as teachers.
When we do our home teaching the way the Lord wants us to do it, we are building love and unity in the Church. The following story is a good example of what can happen when we take our callings as teachers seriously:
“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, 10–11).
What can we do to be better home teachers?
We can magnify our calling to be a good example by greeting the members as they come to the meetinghouse. We can shake their hands and ask about their well-being. When we usher at the door with this kind of warm, friendly feeling, we are helping to increase the love and unity among the members.
The Savior taught that true service is to do something without expecting praise for doing it. Preparing the sacrament is a good example of this principle. Members often do not realize that the teachers prepare the sacrament, for it is often prepared without any recognition being given to those who prepared it. But the service is performed nevertheless, and the Lord is pleased because it is true service.
What can we do to prepare ourselves both physically and spiritually to prepare the sacrament? (Include the idea of being physically clean.)
As teachers we can also help our own families. It is important to help clean and repair the house, take care of the yard, or do other work as needed. Also, as priesthood holders we can help our families live the gospel.
Show visual 6-b, “An Aaronic Priesthood holder who magnifies his priesthood callings helps strengthen his family.”
An inactive priesthood holder had not taken the necessary steps to have his wife and teenage son sealed to him in the temple. His son became deeply interested in eternal family unity after hearing a lesson in priesthood meeting about temple marriage. The lesson influenced the boy to talk to his father concerning the matter. As a result of their conversation, the father’s life changed. He realized that he loved his wife and son and wanted to be with them forever. Eventually, the family was sealed in the temple for time and eternity—all because one family member, a teacher, was interested in building love and unity in his family.
We can fulfill our responsibilities as teachers by being peacemakers in our families and in the Church. One way to do this is to look for the good in others. As we look for the good in others, we will strengthen their self-esteem. Other ways are to avoid gossip or rumors that would injure another person’s reputation and to always use love and kindness in dealing with others. As we develop these tools and use them, we will be able to help many people experience peace in their lives.
As teachers, we should always try to strengthen the Church, promote unity and love, and help members do their duties. Even though we may be young or new converts to the Church, we have the power to influence others for good. We should always remember that the Lord gives no commandments to us, “save he shall prepare a way for [us to] accomplish the thing which he commandeth” (1 Nephi 3:7).
Plan with the class a specific service project that you could do to help build unity and love in your Church unit.
Prayerfully consider the needs of the families you home teach.
Prepare a message suited to the needs of each family as directed by the Spirit.
Visit your assigned families with your home teaching companion early each month.
Pray with your assigned families.
Perform those services you can perform which are needed by your assigned families. Communicate those you cannot perform to your quorum leaders.
Jacob 1:17–19 (how teachers should magnify their priesthood callings)
Before presenting this lesson: