One day after school Roger, the son of a high school biology teacher, asked his father to explain the word “tutor.”
Roger had just learned in elementary school that a “tutor” helps a young prince become a good king.
Roger’s father pondered the honor of tutoring a future king.
“Dad, doesn’t the president of the United States go to school with all the other boys and girls when he is little?” Roger asked.
“He certainly does, Roger.”
“And isn’t he just as important as any king?”
“More so, to Americans.”
“But, Dad, how do you know he’s not in your class?” (Ronald N. Rood, “Teacher to the President,” Teaching, No Greater Call, pp. 37-38 [P.T.A. Magazine, May 1963, p. 21.])
Perhaps you have already drawn an analogy from this story to your own Church calling, especially if you are or have been a teacher of children or youth in the Church. It is staggering to contemplate the potential of our youth, both here on earth and in the eternal realm.
Recently, Jill, a friend of mine, shared a letter she had received from Michelle. Jill is Michelle’s former Young Women leader:
“I just have to tell you thank you so much for the letter you wrote me several years ago. You know the one. At the time, I was childless and bitter. You reminded me that we are [all mothers and teachers] and the change you affected in my attitude helped me find peace and joy in [teaching children]. I have thought of your words over and over. Thank you, thank you, for reminding me of the divine responsibility we all have to teach, love and guide the next generation.”
My friend Jill went on to tell me what had prompted the letter.
Several years ago, Michelle was called to teach a particular class in her ward Primary. During those early months of teaching, she decided to express her disappointment, discouragement and frustration on social media. Jill happened upon her post and decided to write her a letter:
“I hope you’ll forgive me stepping back into a ‘Young Women leader mode’ but my heart ached when I read your comments. Remember when you were on your mission and you wrote to me expressing your love for the people you taught? Some of them were not easy, but you saw their potential and wanted to bring them the blessings of the gospel. You were able to see them as our Heavenly Father does. Remember that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. He loves each one of us dearly because He knows who we are and sees our potential despite our inevitable missteps.
“Children come to this earth innocent and untrained, but their spirits are strong and their potential undimmed. We know that the children today are mighty warriors in the cause of truth, and warriors are seldom still and complacent. Your job as a Primary teacher is to help them tap their potential to take their place on the front lines in the fight for righteousness. If you will pray to see what He sees and feel what He feels, He will pour out His Spirit upon you. You will be blessed beyond what you can imagine, and I promise, your Sundays will no longer be a test of endurance, but rather, a miraculous and marvelous way to have your spiritual well filled each week.
“When the Savior visited the Nephites, He called the children to Him. He taught and blessed them, and called down angels to encircle them about with fire and minister to them. Elder Ballard wrote, ‘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.’
“I know that as we truly feel the worth of each Primary child, the blessings of the gospel will sink deeply into us. Primary is not babysitting, nor is it about forcing children to sit still and listen for two hours. It is about learning, feeling, and living the gospel by ministering to precious children of God. A former Primary general president, Sister Cheryl Lant, said, ‘It is our sacred responsibility as parents and leaders of this rising generation of children to bring them to the Savior so that they might see His face and the face of our Father in Heaven as well. As we do so, we also bring ourselves.’ Michelle, I hope you will prayerfully consider your role in Primary. It is where the Savior would be if He were here.”
I am grateful that Jill has continued to watch over and stay connected with those she has taught and continues to love and minister and have a great influence over those she has taught and led.
We in the Relief Society general presidency have a great desire to help support all of our sisters in every auxiliary organization of the Church. We are aware that wherever they serve, every adult sister is always an important member of Relief Society. Our presidency is grateful for the efforts of our local Relief Society leaders who continually strive to embrace all sisters who serve in Primary, Young Women and Sunday School and seek for ways to love, be unified and stay connected.
Each of us, in every calling, has the divine responsibility and opportunity to be a “tutor” to a future king or queen or president and to influence the lives of our Heavenly Father’s children as we serve, love and minister to our children, youth and adult brothers and sisters to help them reach their full potential as sons and daughters of God in His eternal kingdom.