I am returning to teach seminary again in the fall. (I’d posted before that I was helping the final quarter of last year’s class.) I’ve got to say that I’m very excited and quite overwhelmed.
Seminary is a little like Scouting. You could spend your entire life training! (Those of you who have served in Scouting know that the BSA has an awesome ability to train, train, train! And the training is quite good and valuable, but it is time consuming!) Seminary is no different. In addition to the inservice meetings (we had our big summer meeting already) there are monthly inservice meetings. And there are online resources. And there are a jazillion websites where other seminary teachers have posted their terrific ideas.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
And I’m there.
As I’ve been preparing to teach this fall, a few thoughts have resonated with me:
First, a reminder from the CES administrator who was responsible for me the first time I taught seminary nearly 30 years ago. He taught us regularly that we teach the scriptures. We do not teach from the scriptures or about the scriptures, but we teach the scriptures. That’s good news for me since I love the scriptures.
The latest counsel from CES is very similar: “We teach students the doctrines and principles of the gospel as found in the scriptures and the words of the prophets” (Gospel Teaching and Learning, p. x).
Second, I love the Book of Mormon. That’s our text this year, and I couldn’t be more excited. The Book of Mormon practically teaches itself. It has been such an influential book in my own conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel, and I yearn to share that with my students.
At a recent family reunion there were several of us who either have recently or will soon teach seminary, we talked about logistics and planning, lesson preparation, scripture study, making connections, teaching doctrines, leading discussions. It was awesome to think about this great work of helping our youth to understand and rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and to prepare to return home one day.
My own seminary experience was spotty. I began with early morning seminary, but demographics and travel patterns in my ward made it so that we moved to home study seminary in my second year. I stayed diligent in home study for two and a half years, but fizzled out at the end and never finished. I regret that I could not continue attending an early morning class, as I really enjoyed it. I regret that I did not have the discipline to finish home study (despite the heroic efforts of my teacher who gave me every possible chance to catch up).
When I was bishop speaking at those beginning of the school year seminary firesides, I would tell the youth I fell in love with my wife because she was a seminary graduate. That’s probably not the only reason, but my wife’s commitment to the gospel was surely influenced by her participation in seminary, and her faith was certainly attractive to me.
As I spend the rest of the summer cramming scripture study, scripture masteries, lesson plans and teacher training all into my very human brain, I will rely on the Lord to guide my efforts and qualify me for the work He’s called me to do.