Sunday, August 24, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #102

Smart Teaching
You have to be smart in life if you want to achieve the success that you desire.  This applies on your mission as well.  One of John Wayne’s famous movie quotes is, “Life is tough, but it is tougher if you are stupid.”  The quote is a bit coarse but I have pretty much found it to be true in my life. 

My life changed dramatically one day in 1961.  I was sitting in Mr. Wasden’s current events class in the Fillmore Junior High School.  That has been changed and is roughly equivalent to the Middle School now days.  I was in 7th grade and 12 years old.  To set the story straight, based on my performance, I was an average to below average student.  I got along well with my friends and tried hard, but I really did not see myself as smart or talented.  I was one of the many farm boys in our school and had plenty of interesting things to do when I went home every afternoon besides studying.  My favorite was hunting with a B-B gun.  The truth is, I did not apply myself very well to school work, and I had the grades to prove it.

Mr. Wasden’s class was 7th period and that particular day, it was warm and spring had sprung.  Frankly, I was looking out the window, day-dreaming of the things I planned to do when I would get home on the bus.  Even today, I could have shown you the spot where I was sitting that spring day, except the Millard School District tore down the building a few years ago.  Something prompted me to look around the class room at the other students.  My eyes focused on Jim Dallas.

He was sitting on the front row.  He was leaning forward in his chair with good posture, pencil in hand and taking notes on the paper lying on his desk.  He had eye contact with Mr. Wasden and I could see he was listening intently.  Everybody knew that Jim Dallas was the smartest kid in the school.  I will never forget the alien thought that came into my head.  Never before had a thought impacted me so hard.  I was dumb-founded.

“Hey, I’ll bet that is why he’s so smart!”

For some strange reason, I wanted a piece of that.  I decided to do the same thing.  The rest of class that day and every class from then on found me no longer naive and mediocre.  The first row usually had plenty of empty desks so that part was easy.  The listening, leaning forward, good posture, eye contact and note taking was not all that difficult either.  The transformation was amazing, if I say so myself.  Getting good grades became easy.  All I had to do was study my notes before each test.  My notes contained all the test questions!  It was almost like cheating.  Strangely from then on in High School, my self-image did not change much, but I knew I was spanking it with pretty good grades.

As a side note, a few weeks before my High School Graduation, I was called out of class to report to the office.  I walked down wondering what I had done wrong now.  Jim Dallas and a few other students jointed me in the Principal’s office to be informed we were the valedictorians of the graduating class.  My first thought was that they had made a mistake with me.  But, eventually I realized that I had been doing things in a smart way and deserved the honor.

It is time for us to do smarter teaching and you do this with smarter study and preparation.  During the next transfer starting 17 September 2014, the mission training schedule topic is Chapter 2 of PMG, Effective Study.  Your learning will focus on improving your ability, through study and preparation, to teach with clarity and power so you can reduce leakage of investigators out of the funnel that leads to baptism.  It will require the attributes that I learned in High School, and what you probably already know, of focus and paying attention to what you are trying to accomplish as you prepare.  Assisted by the Holy Ghost, you will get good results by studying and preparing to teach the lessons.  Your specific plans, focus, use of scriptures and frequent testimony will be the key while you teach.

Success will come when you use faith, do the study and preparation and expect the Lord will not let you down while you follow-through with teaching.  It all begins with effective study and preparation.  Remember this segment out of the Mission Vison:  

“Each missionary, in the missionary force supporting the 5 Stakes, will be an effective and highly skilled missionary, who has repeatedly practiced, studied, exercised and re-trained to have internalized his or her skills.  Each will excel from his or her thorough knowledge and use of Preach My Gospel.  Each will understand and master the basic techniques to effectively work with people.  Each will be personable, diligent, obedient, hard-working and humble servants who are in tune with the spirit.  Each will teach clearly and testify convincingly to motivate all with whom they come in contact.”

I am impressed with Ammon’s faith when he stayed focused and taught smart to reap his success.  He was called to repentance by an angel and subsequently went on a 14 year mission to the Lamanites which would today essentially be equivalent to serving as a missionary in Iraq.  The Lamanites were a blood thirsty and wicked people who murdered Nephites.  Ammon’s father received a promise from the Lord to deliver Ammon and his companions out of the hands of the Lamanites. (Mos. 28:7)  Ammon also received assurance from God that he would be an instrument in God’s hands for the salvation of souls.” (Alma 17:11)

But, people still die in the service of God.  I would imagine that it still took mighty faith on Ammon’s part to do what he did.  When the King’s sheep were scattered, Ammon thought, “I will show forth the power that is within me.” (Alma 17:29)  That would take some courage.  You know how it could have been.  The promises and assurances were likely feelings from the spirit.  When he was actually taking the risk for real, he may have been thinking, “I hope this works.”  He was in the real world but just went forward taking care of business with the hope and faith that his end goal would be reached.   After he gathered the sheep, again I think it would take faith, regardless of the promises, as he went to contend with those who scattered the sheep.  (Alma 17: 33-35)  Ammon stood forth, slew 6 men with the sling plus 1 with the sword and cut off the arms of others, “and they were not a few.”  (Alma 17: 38)   

So you are embarking through effective study and preparation, to be a smarter teacher.  I invite you to find the faith to learn the material and follow-through so that you do smarter teaching.  I know the Lord will bless you with more success.

President Robinson

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