To teach or not to teach

This week I was reminded of an important principle that I wanted to share.

As I mentioned earlier, we just had a baby (what an awesome experience).  After delivery, once mom and baby had rested a little, I came home to retrieve our other 5 kids to bring them to the hospital to see their new baby brother.  Of course, they were all quite excited, and as you know, excitement can quickly get out of hand and cause… “disturbances”.

We had just finished resolving one of these, when I thought I’d take a “parenting” moment.  Since my kids love to draw, I talked to them about how exciting it is to sit in front of a blank piece of paper, knowing that you can leave your mark on that paper, and how by drawing on it you can turn it into anything you want.

I then began to describe how a little baby is a lot like a blank piece of paper, and how our actions leave our mark upon them.  I talked to them about how much their new little brother would admire them, and watch them, and learn from them, and about how important it is that they be mindful of their actions and their words, because the baby would mimic them.

After a moment of silence I took as “absorption”, I was smiling at my spontaneous and seemingly profound analogy, when my three year old girl timidly spoke up and said “But Dad, we really shouldn’t draw on the baby!”

After reassuring her that the resulting outburst of laughter throughout the vehicle was nothing personal, I was reminded of something important.

I was reminded that often, even though our message might not be received by all (or often by any), it doesn’t nullify or diminish the importance of delivering it.

How often in the scriptures we’ve seen instances where a prophet was commanded to deliver a message, even when in His foresight, the Lord new it would be rejected.

One of the most common principles in marketing is frequency (which I explore a bit here) and perseverance.  Often you have to run an ad a dozen or more times before it’ll be acted on.  Someone might see it regularly in fact, and ignore it every time.  Every time, that is, except the one time when it hits them because the circumstances are just right.  Something in their life has prepared them for the message you’ve been delivering all the while.  They see your headline and because their situation in life has changed, now you’re not only relevant, but imperative, and they act.

The one thing life guarantees is change.  So for those of us who endeavor to teach, in whatever capacity, never lose hope, never stop trying, and never let discouragement spoil your vigor.

For you never know when the lives of those who hear you will be divinely aligned in just the right way to prepare them for what you have to say.

The real failure is not in speaking to unhearing ears, but in not speaking when one might be listening.  The real failure is not in the seeds that fall among thorns, but in casting no seeds at all.

Rusty

P.S.  If you know a teacher, consider sharing this with them.

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5 replies
  1. kenjebz
    kenjebz says:

    We just had a baby over a month ago too. “The one thing life guarantees is change. So for those of us who endeavor to teach, in whatever capacity, never lose hope, never stop trying, and never let discouragement spoil your vigor.

    For you never know when the lives of those who hear you will be divinely aligned in just the right way to prepare them for what you have to say.”

    I honestly like that. Very true, very moving!

    Reply
  2. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    Sometimes lessons are learned from an unlikely source. Sometimes our children don’t listen to parents, teachers or leaders. In our case a young man came along (who later became our son in law) and saw something in our daughter that most others couldn’t see. With his help she was able to make that “mighty Change” and become what she was meant to be. I can’t put into words how grateful we are to him. I always pray that we will be able to meet people and have experiences that will keep us on, or bring us back to the path the Lord would have us take.

    Reply
  3. Mrs. Thoughtskoto
    Mrs. Thoughtskoto says:

    congratulations!
    It’s really amazing how children learn from us. I’d been teaching to Primary for almost a year now, and I remember how sometimes I feel discouraged whenever I teach and they don’t seemed to understand what we are teaching them. What I’ve learned is that by simply loving them, they will know how to love also, by this all other virtues follow.

    Reply
  4. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    I really like that! I’ve been in the nursery 5 different times through the years (maybe someday I’ll get it right :o) ). Teaching a lesson most of the time seems like a lost cause, but every once in a while that little light glimmers and they’ll repeat back something you said 3 weeks ago. Those sweet little spirits do need to learn that others besides Dad & Mom can love them, especially their Heavenly Father!

    Reply
  5. Linda
    Linda says:

    Very impressive example!

    I enjoyed being a teacher for 5 years. And there was always love between my students and me.We say often In Chinese that teachers are the engineers of human souls. They are there not only for teaching how to obtain knowledge, but also for guiding how to be good human beings.

    Reply

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