A couple of months ago I got a call from a member of the bishopric in which he asked me if I would consider being the early-morning seminary teacher for our ward. My wife and I had just made the decision to sign our oldest daughter up for a swim team that would require her to practice early in the morning three days a week, so I had to reluctantly decline. I offered my services as a potential substitute on the days when I didn’t have to take my daughter to the pool.
Since that day, I’ve occasionally wondered if I made the right choice. I don’t imagine that I’ll have that opportunity present itself again, although it is possible. My mother-in-law just finished a four-year stint as a seminary teacher. Every time I talked with her during that time she would always speak about her class with great enthusiasm. She truly loved being a seminary teacher. I read Gordon’s post referencing his time as a seminary teacher and found myself feeling a twinge of regret. On the other hand, Jaymie had her first swim meet with her new team on Saturday and she had a great experience. She’s learned a lot in just the past couple of months, not just about swimming but about working hard, being a part of a team, and self-discipline.
My decision was made easier by the fact that seminary teachers are not called. I’ve never turned down a calling outright (although I have had potential callings not extended due to particular circumstances), and don’t plan to ever do so. I didn’t feel guilty about saying no to this invitation, though. Any regrets I have come from my sense that I might have really enjoyed being a seminary teacher.
I got a visit on Sunday from the same member of the bishopric. The seminary teacher has had to quit, and he wanted to know if I could help fill in until a new teacher could be found. After consulting with my wife, I said I would be happy to help. This morning I got to see what I turned down.
The class is a good group of kids — there were seven there this morning, in varying states of consciousness. Three of them participated actively. All of them responded enthusiastically when I drew a parallel between a particular story and the presidential debates. I could see the sparks of a real class in my short time with them, a group that could be brought together to become something much greater than the sum of its parts (I’m not saying that the class isn’t like this already, just that as an outsider, I was able to see that potential in just a short time with them).
I’ve traded that experience for one with my own child. Now that I know a little more about what I’m missing, I have a greater incentive to make my time with my own child just as rich and rewarding for both of us, and that’s a good thing. And who knows, maybe I’ll get to teach the seminary class for a few more Mondays and Wednesdays yet.
A postscript — I found myself at one point wanting to share the fact that I am guestblogging here, but didn’t. I didn’t want to make an on-the-spot decision that I would regret later. Is Times and Seasons an appropriate place to point a class of seminary students?