Sunday, March 3, 2013

Teaching: The Work of Salvation


When I was still a very young mother I was called to the primary presidency in our ward.  I served as a counselor for a couple of years and then as the president for about 2 years.  By the time I was the president I had a firm testimony of the importance of those sharing time lessons in teaching the gospel to all of those little children.  As I prepared and taught I found myself thinking, “Surely this is the most important teaching in the church.  These children are young and just starting on their life journey.  The foundation we lay is so important.”  I loved teaching the children because I knew how important my job was.

Years passed, we moved to North Carolina and I was the primary chorister for many happy years.  As primary chorister I felt that what I was doing was really like teaching Gospel Doctrine to those sweet spirits and once again I felt like it was the most important teaching I could be doing.


Then it was time for a change and I was called to teach the Laurels.  (The 16 and 17 year old girls.)  What I felt surprised me.  I was astonished at the intensity I felt about the importance of teaching these lovely young women.  I could feel that they were at such a vulnerable point in their lives—each one of them making decisions that would shape the rest of their lives.  I prayed that I would be able to teach them well enough that the spirit would take the lessons deep into their hearts and help with those decisions.  I decided that I must have been wrong before, because this had to be the most important teaching in the church—these vulnerable young women at such a critical moment.


When we found out that I was pregnant with the triplets I was released very quickly from all of my callings and left to gestate in peace.  And for the next 18 months my only calling was surviving from day to day.  When the triplets were 1 I was called to teach Relief Society after promising everyone concerned that one lesson a month wouldn’t be too much for me.

I’d never taught Relief Society before, and I was unprepared for the feelings as I taught those first few lessons.  I looked out at the sisters, some young and just starting their adult lives, some in the midst of raising their children, some in later stages of life.  And as I looked out at them I thought, “These women are giving their all, day in and day out, taking care of other people.  Most of them are exhausted.  They need the spiritual boost of these lessons here each Sunday to carry them through their difficult weeks.”

When I found myself thinking these thoughts I just laughed, and thought I must be the most fickle church teacher that ever was, convinced that each of my teaching callings was surely the most important calling.


Several years ago in the Worldwide Leadership Training broadcast there was a roundtable discussion to talk about the new handbooks that had been released.  I was sitting and watching it, interested but not terribly engaged.  But then came a moment that I have never forgotten—a moment that provided unexpected clarity.

Elder Bednar was talking about some of the handbook sections on teaching, and then he stopped and said something like, “We’ve moved the sections on teaching into section 5, ‘The Work of Salvation.’”  Then he stopped, and he said, “Because teaching IS the work of salvation.”

And in that moment I understood.  It wasn’t that I was a fickle teacher.  I had felt the truth of Elder Bednar’s statement years and years before I heard it, felt it in my heart and soul.  I had known that teaching was the work of salvation for whatever group I was teaching in that moment.


A few months after I arrived here in Oregon I was called to teach the 9 year old primary class.  I’d actually never taught a primary class before, and I had some worries about it.  What I found was that I loved teaching them about the Book of Mormon, and when the new year rolled around I was excited to teach them about Church History.  Because, you know, this was the most important teaching in the church!

Much to my surprise the bishop asked to see me a few weeks ago and called me to teach Relief Society.  When I was set apart by one of the counselors he gave me quite possibly the most beautiful blessing I’ve ever been given.  I wish I had had the presence of mind to jot down my thoughts right after, because I can only remember a few things now.  One thing that I can remember is that he said that many of the women in our ward struggle with their testimonies even now, and that it is my calling to teach and bear testimony in a way that will help the Holy Ghost to strengthen them. 

I’m a little anxious about it.  I’ve never taught the prophet lessons before, even though I’ve taught people how to teach them.  I think they’re sometimes difficult lessons to teach.  I worry a little about some of the dynamics in this Relief Society—how to manage things in a way that minimizes the disruptive possibilities that exist while still teaching with the spirit.  I’m worried that my lesson for March is only about 4 pages long.  But I’m determined to do it, and to do a good job.  Because you know what, I’m sure that this is the most important teaching in the church…


  1. Oh, you are going to be a great RS teacher! Wish I could be there to learn from your lessons!

  2. Ditto- I can't think of a anyone I'd rather listen to!