Helping Your Class Feel the Spirit During the Lesson
When I was teaching Gospel Doctrine a few years ago, one of the bishopric members who would often attend my class noticed that I often seemed frustrated when I would try so hard to bring the Spirit into the class only to be unsuccessful time and time again. “Shannon,” he said, “ you need to remember that those whom you are teaching need to do their part in preparation too.”
He was right. There were those in my class who (thought you really can never tell for sure) didn’t seem to be taking in all that they could in order to get the spiritual benefits from my class.
Yet, I was the teacher and was faced with the difficult challenge of helping those in my class not only feel the Spirit, but want to feel the Spirit as well. So, in my mind, I was the one who still needed the preparation.
To do this, I had to go back and reprogram myself on teaching with the Spirit. First off, I asked myself, “What is feeling the Spirit? What does that mean and how does it manifest itself?”
Some thoughts that came to mind were that it is a strong feeling, desire to do and be better, inspiration, enlightenment, understanding, peace, spiritual healing, burning in your heart, joy. The list can go on and on.
That lead me to my next question-how can I help those in my class feel the Spirit which manifests itself in so many different ways?
I hate to disappoint you, but the answer I found may seem surprisingly simple. First, pray. I know, we have all heard this before, but I mean a heartfelt, detailed prayer. It should include every large and small outcome that you feel the Lord would want to happen during your class.
Go through the entire lesson in your prayer if you have to. Say whom you want to reach out to, what you want the lesson to help them with, what kinds of questions you want to ask and what sort of outcome you feel the Lord would be happy with.
To me, feeling the Spirit can mean learning being uplifted through truth and knowledge. Once we are aware of this, we may also be more aware that the Spirit is present in our class. If you feel that those in your class were uplifted by truths that they learned, consider the lesson success. This is why it is always important to include at least one clearly read and relevant scripture during your lesson. The scriptures easily convey knowledge and truth, no matter what your subject is.
Music always has its way of soothing the soul. Many times since my little frustration, I have often used music to help make the class a more spiritual experience because everyone can understand it, everyone can participate and everyone can feel its message.
Testimony, or bearing knowledge of truth, always has a power behind it that is unique in and of itself. Testimony can always be worked into a lesson, no matter what the subject or what the outline of the lesson may be. Simply fill in the blank: “I know that ______,” and voila! a testimony is born whether it was previously gained or whether it was gained in the bearing of it.
Asking others to share their testimonies can be helpful as well. One suggestion for this would be, however, to stress that though personal stories leading up to the testimony are and can be important, the testimony is what you are really after for the class to hear.
For myself, anyway, I have learned that feelings and testimony are two different things, and though feelings, particularly those conveyed through personal experiences, are important, we don’t want them to overshadow or drown out the testimony.
Over time, I did manage to get to the point where I felt comfortable teaching my class. I realized that I was trying so hard to make everyone else feel the Spirit that I forgot about myself. I learned to do what I could to make sure I was in the right so as to allow the Spirit work through me.
For you, how you teach your class and how you feel they can feel the Spirit best is what you have been set apart to do. We must remember that this should be the primary objective of every class we teach, and that we, as teachers, are a part of our class as well.