In our stake, the Young Single Adults were run rather like an auxiliary program in our ward. We had our own Relief Society and Sunday School meetings, but attended Sacrament Meeting with our ward. Once a week, there was a weeknight stake activity, along with various firesides and other events.
I was promptly called to teach a Relief Society class called Spiritual Living. Although no longer taught, it was the heavy doctrinal class. When my bishop explained to me what it was, I stared at him in confusion. I, a new convert, was going to teach other people important doctrinal lessons? He handed me the lesson manual and said the first lesson, to be taught in a few weeks, was on the Sacrament.
What I knew about the Sacrament could be taught in about three minutes. I pointed this out to my bishop, but even then, I knew it wouldn’t help. He assured me everything I needed to know was in the manual, but if I had more questions about the Sacrament or teaching–which I’d never done–I should ask my home or visiting teachers for help.
I went home and began memorizing the lesson. Someone advised me that if anyone asked a question I didn’t know the answer to, I should invite the other students to answer it. I had a better plan. I would talk non-stop and not give anyone a chance to ask anything. I didn’t think I was up to questions.
The day came and I held my lesson plan in front of me. I had experience with public speaking, so I had decided to pretend it was a speech. As always, I memorized it word for word. I faced the class and went to work.
And then it happened. I paused for breath and someone asked a question. I panicked. I couldn’t answer questions. If it wasn’t in my speech, I didn’t know it. Then I remembered the advice I’d been given.
“Would someone like to answer that question?” Someone did and then I returned to my speech.
Over the coming months, I struggled through my calling. Nearly every lesson was on subjects I didn’t know. I studied each doctrine carefully, taking my own questions to others. I also began to learn how to teach. My lessons improved. I tested new methods, began asking questions–and sometimes even being able to answer them–and stopped being scared to teach.
I had thought God was making a big mistake putting me into that particular calling, one usual reserved for very knowledgeable people. (I learned that Camilla Kimball was teaching that class at the same time I was.) Decades later, though, with a much increased understanding of how God works, I realized He knew exactly what He was doing. He was giving me a crash course in gospel essentials. I was mastering a new gospel doctrine once every month, while also learning how to teach.
Over the years, I have come to realize God does not always put the most qualified person into a calling. Often he puts the least qualified person there and gives them the opportunity to grow into the work. I find that practice to be extremely empowering. It starts out with the assumption that I can do more than I think I can do.
It sends me into uncharted territory regularly. There are so many skills I don’t really have that I am quite certain that when life is over, I still won’t have worked my way through all the callings I would need in order to master everything.
Over the next few days, as I have time, I’ll be sharing other times God empowered me by sending me places I thought I couldn’t possibly go.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.