Take Advantage of Spontaneous Teaching Moments

Teaching in the Savior’s Way, 2015


Most of the Savior’s teaching did not happen in a synagogue but in informal, everyday settings—while eating a meal with His disciples, drawing water from a well, or walking past a fig tree. Even if your only opportunities to interact with class members come on Sunday, watch for signs that they are ready to learn—even if they are ready to learn something you had not planned to teach.

Be Ready Always

Informal teaching moments pass quickly, so it is important to take advantage of them when they arise. For example, a class member’s comment about a new movie with a harmful message could be an opportunity, as the Spirit directs, to contrast the Lord’s standards with the world’s ways. A rainstorm could be a chance to talk about how the gospel shelters us from many of life’s storms. These conversations are most effective at the time the opportunity arises, not the next time the topic comes up in a manual. Because such moments are unexpected, you can’t prepare for them as you would prepare for a lesson. However, you can prepare yourself by being “ready always” (1 Peter 3:15) and sensitive to the Spirit. The Savior did not see teaching as a role He took on once a week; instead, being a teacher was part of who He was. If you see yourself as a gospel teacher at all times, you can turn any moment into a teaching moment.

Questions to ponder. What opportunities do I have to teach that may be outside of a planned lesson? What can I do to ensure that I am always ready to take advantage of such moments?

Scriptural example. How do Alma’s words about standing as a witness “at all times” and “in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) apply to me as a teacher? (see also D&C 84:85).

family picnic

Be Observant

As you pay attention to what is happening in your class members’ lives, you will find excellent teaching opportunities. For example, a teenager with a difficult decision to make may be ready to learn about how to receive personal revelation, or a child facing fears may be ready to learn about the Holy Ghost as the Comforter. Comments that learners make or questions they ask can also lead to teaching moments.

Question to ponder. When have I been blessed by a family member or teacher who noticed that I was ready to learn something?

Scriptural example. What did the Savior observe about the Pharisees and scribes that led Him to teach them the parables in Luke 15? (see verses 1–2).

Be Available and Accessible

Some of the best teaching moments start as a question or concern in the heart of a class member. However, if you seem too busy, too judgmental, or too focused on covering your prepared material, those you teach may not feel comfortable sharing their questions or concerns with you. Be willing to set aside what you have planned, as prompted by the Spirit, and listen to class members’ concerns. Let them know through your words and actions that you are eager to hear them.

Questions to ponder. Do those I teach know that I am interested in their questions? How can I better communicate my interest?

Scriptural example. What do I learn from Mark 5:22–34; 6:30–44; and 3 Nephi 17 about the Savior’s willingness to teach and bless people when they needed His help?

father and sons

For the Discussion Leader

Share and counsel together. Begin by inviting teachers to share recent teaching experiences and ask questions related to teaching. Some of the best teaching moments may come during this part of the meeting.

Learn together. Invite teachers to discuss one or more of the ideas in this section.

Practice. Ask teachers to make a list of commonplace activities they did during the past week (such as completing household chores, playing a game with family members, watching a movie or sporting event, or going grocery shopping). Invite them to discuss how these activities could be used as teaching opportunities.

Prepare. Decide together on a topic for the next meeting, and invite teachers to prepare.