Have you ever wondered if you can really make a difference in your calling? Some members may say, “I am just a Primary teacher.” But before diminishing the value of your role, consider the following story about one such sister:
“Several weeks ago, my telephone rang and on the other end was my daughter. Like all young mothers, her days include the many responsibilities of caring for a young family. Earlier in the day she had visited with her bishop, which included the invitation to serve as a Primary teacher. She became a bit emotional explaining to me the feelings she was experiencing. Her 20-month old son had finally adjusted to attending nursery, and she was just getting to know the other sisters in Relief Society in her new ward. She said, ‘I was finally getting something out of attending Church again.’ I assured her I understood her feelings, and I also felt a great desire to help her recognize the importance of her calling and the value of serving as a Primary teacher.
“As I pondered our conversation and the internal struggle of my faithful daughter, the recent remarks from Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson (Young Women general president) came to mind. Sister Oscarson told of a time when her children asked why they had to attend Mutual, because they didn’t get anything out of it. She said, ‘If I was having a good parenting moment, I would reply, “What makes you think you go to Mutual because of what you get out of it?” ’ She then explained, ‘It is true that we attend our weekly Church meetings to participate in ordinances, learn doctrine and be inspired, but another very important reason for attending is that, as a ward family and as disciples of the Savior Jesus Christ, we watch out for one another, encourage one another, and find ways to serve and strengthen each other. We are not just receivers and takers of what is offered at church; we are needed to be givers and suppliers.’
“A few weeks later, I asked my daughter how her calling was going. Tears welled up in her eyes as she shared her feelings with me — but this time for a very different reason. Her ward Primary president had discussed the children in her class with her. She had provided information regarding their families and some of the struggles they were experiencing. This information helped my daughter see the children with deeper vision and helped her understand their needs. It provided perspective on the challenges she faced in the classroom. It planted seeds of love and patience.
“She told me about one little girl named Sara. Sara’s parents divorced and she recently moved in with her elderly grandmother. As her Primary teacher, my daughter wrapped her arms around Sara to provide comfort. She expressed Heavenly Father’s and Jesus Christ’s love for her. She ministered to her both in class time and sharing time. She answered Sara’s questions and testified that Heavenly Father is aware of her and has a plan specifically for her. She emphasized that she will experience joy and peace as she chooses to follow Him. Her new perspective and experiences have not eliminated all of the challenges. However, my daughter explained she believes she was specifically called for Sara and how Sara now occupies a special place in her heart.”
Through personal experiences like this sister’s, we can learn the truth of the words of Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “This religion is not concerned only with self; rather, we are all called to serve.” We have the privilege to love and strengthen individual children in our care and ultimately strengthen their families.
President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, emphasized this unique opportunity when he said, “Clearly, those of us who have been entrusted with precious children have been given a sacred, noble stewardship, for we are the ones God has appointed to encircle today’s children with love and the fire of faith and an understanding of who they are.”
The familiar words “lead me, guide, me, walk beside me” are deeply felt in the hearts of those who sing the beloved Primary song, “I Am a Child of God.” They become even more significant as they progress from mere words into actions. Primary teachers assist parents in leading children to the Savior as they guide them in their learning each week. They help to lead children to the Savior as they teach them to recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost, and they exemplify the Savior through their sincere love and care.
A Primary teacher’s “worth … is great.” As teachers bless children by serving and ministering to their individual needs, abundant blessings will also enter their lives and they will grow closer to the Lord. Through this labor of love, both teachers and Primary children will enjoy the promised blessing from our Heavenly Father that “great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13).