In my church none of the teachers or clergy get paid for their time or expertise. To be honest, none of us really have expertise and very few of us have any time to speak of. We just all pitch in and do our share. The bishop (also unpaid) prays for inspiration and then issues specific jobs or “callings” to the members of the congregation. He gets his calling to be bishop from someone higher up who gets his calling from someone even higher up, all the way up to the apostles and prophets who do get paid something because they work for the church 24/7 and their families need to eat and buy Mormon Tabernacle Choir CDs and Jell-O crystals and whatever else prophets’ families spend money on.
This is a long lead-in to tell you that I’ve been serving as the Sunday teacher to some 9-year-olds for a while but was recently asked to be an advisor/teacher to a group of 14 and 15-year-old girls. I was giddy with glee to receive this calling for several reasons.
1. I can scout out all the best babysitters in our congregation.
2. I love this age group with all the drama and angst and life-changing decisions they’re facing. They’re really down to the hard work of deciding who they are and what they choose in the next few years will have a huge impact on how their lives go. I’m so excited to be a part of that transitional period.
4. I think the very best thing about teaching them is that I really need to stay on my toes and work hard to make sure my life is in order so that I can be a good example to them. I don’t want them to say, “Kathryn’s a lazy skuz ball so I guess it’s okay if I am too.”
I’ve really been examining my life lately and each time (twice so far — woo-hoo bow in awe of my extensive experience) that I prepare a lesson for these girls I feel the need to pray so hard and think so long about what I can say to them to help them choose what they need to choose to be happy.
Today we talked about having an eternal perspective, which really just means thinking about our actions in terms of the big picture, life before we came to earth and life after we die. What will be the long-term consequences of what we choose today?
I told the girls that sometimes I struggle just to have a 5-minute perspective. I frequently don’t consider what consequences my actions will have in the extreme short term. I just want to do what I want to do and I want to do it now. So I suggested that they look at various aspects of their lives and try to broaden their perspectives just a bit. Maybe broaden the way they think about their relationships with their parents to a 5 year perspective. “How will the way I treat my mom today affect my life and her life 5 years from now?”
I want to work on having a year-long perspective with raising my kids. How will my actions or inactions (because I’m so flippin’ tired that I’m running on auto-pilot as a mother) affect how they feel about themselves and who they become a year from now… then stretch to 10 years from now… then think about eternity.
It’s really amazing to me how tunnel-visioned I can become living from one day to the next, getting out of bed and shlumping around the house all day until it’s bedtime and then repeating the cycle without stopping to think about what I’m doing and why.
So I’m hoping to get better at remembering to think about 4 questions:
1. Who am I right now? A daughter of God, a woman who says she’s a writer but rarely finishes a writing project she starts, a mother who adores her children but not enough to get up early and be ready to help them get a good start to their days, a great cookie baker and eater, etc.
2. Who do I want to become? A morning person, a spiritually full and peaceful woman, someone who serves others naturally without hesitation, a published author with steady work, the leader of a dance-battle-winning hip hop dance crew made up of frumpy moms, someone who’s not asked repeatedly if she’s pregnant when she’s not, etc.
3. Who does my Heavenly Father know I can become?
4. What am I doing right now to achieve these goals or sabotage them?
It’s a lot. A lot to think about. When I prepare lessons for these girls, I get all passionate and focused and I just want to plead with them to be a little better and do a little more with their lives. In the end I think I was given this calling so I could learn to be more passionate and focused in my own life, so I could find the motivation I need to be a little better and do a little more myself.