“Rabbi,” said Nicodemus to Jesus, “we know that thou art a teacher come from God” (John 3:2).
Good teachers are responsive to the needs of their students. They ask questions and make observations that stimulate thought. Consider, for example, how the Savior turned the following events into teaching opportunities:
- When His disciples were quibbling about their relative status in the kingdom of God, He explained that good leaders are servants, not dictators. (See Mark 9:33-35, Mark 10:42-44.)
- When He was with a group of pharisees and lawyers on the sabbath and saw a man who was ill, He asked if it was okay to heal on the sabbath. When they didn’t answer, He healed the man and explained why He considered it appropriate. (See Luke 14:1-6.)
- When a large group of people followed Him onto a mountain, He asked His disciples, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” Jesus knew how He would feed them, but He wanted His disciples to think about the situation and evaluate their options. (See John 6:5-14.)
- When His disciples on the American continent asked what they should call the church, He responded that it should be named after Him, because its members had taken His name upon themselves. He then emphasized the core principle behind this instruction with a question: “What manner or men [and women] ought ye to be?” His response: “Even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27).
He also taught in more formal settings, standing in front of an audience. (See Matthew 5:1-2, Matthew 13:1-2, Luke 4:15-16, 3 Nephi 12:1-2.)
Clayton Christensen observed, “People learn when they’re ready to learn, not when we’re ready to teach them” (The Power of Everyday Missionaries (2012), 30, quoted in Dallin H. Oaks, “Sharing the Restored Gospel,” General Conference, October 2016).
Therefore, as Devin G. Durrant pointed out:
Parental teaching is like being an on-call physician. We always need to be ready to teach our children because we never know when the opportunity will present itself.
“Teaching in the Home—a Joyful and Sacred Responsibility,” General Conference, April 2018
Today, I will follow the Savior’s example of effective teaching. I pay attention to the needs of the people around me, and will take advantage of teaching opportunities as they occur.
Thank you for enlightening my perspective on teaching our children. Very helpful and what I needed to hear. Your posts are inspirational and appreciated.