Brother Owen asked us to think about someone who has had a lasting impact on our lives, whether “a family member, a teacher, or a Church leader.
He questioned: “What was it that made this person so influential?”
Then he talked about an address given by Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, who spoke of impact teaching.
Some years ago when Aldin Porter was president of the Boise North Stake, he dropped by the home of Glen Clayton, who was the Scoutmaster in his ward. Glen and his son were working together repairing a bicycle. President Porter stood and talked to them for a few minutes and then left. Several hours later he returned and the father and son were still working on the bike together. President Porter said, “Glen, with the wages you make per hour you could have bought a new bike, considering the time you have spent repairing this old one.”
Glen stood up and said, “I’m not repairing a bike, I’m training a boy!”
That year twenty-one boys achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in Glen’s troop. Impact teachers do not teach lessons, they teach souls.—Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone. “The Impact Teacher”
He “spoke of the shepherds of Israel and their duty to gather the Lord’s flock, and I wanted to be such a shepherd. He spoke of fathers who inspire their children with a knowledge of who they are, and I wanted to be such a father. He spoke of teachers who teach in the Savior’s way, and I wanted to be such a teacher. Never before had I been so deeply moved by a conference talk.”
Just months later Brother Owen arrived in the Texas San Antonio Mission where Vaughn J. Featherstone was serving as mission president. As president, “He taught me things that have remained with me in every responsibility and calling I have had ever since” because he was an impact teacher.
For Brother Owen, three principles stood out:
- Be with them
- Connect them with Heaven
- Let them lead
Brother Owen elaborated on each point:
1. Be with them.
“If you teach or lead youth, look for ways to be with them—in all kinds of settings, not just during an hour at church. This is how you will find your most meaningful teaching opportunities. Take an interest in them and in their lives. Show them that you notice their good qualities. Help them feel that you are a fellow laborer, a fellow traveler on the path back to the Savior.”
2. Connect them with heaven.
“Sometimes in our efforts to build strong relationships with the youth, we forget that they must be converted to the Savior, not to us. Everything we do with them should build faith in Him. To survive spiritually, they will need a strong connection with heaven, and if we intend to help them, our connection with heaven must be strong as well.”
3. Let them lead.
Leaders of youth must trust them, we must give them opportunities to lead after we have trained them to succeed. Teaching young men to lead is a basic premise of Scouting, in fact, I have contended for some time now that leadership development is the fourth aim of Scouting and certainly something the LDS Church wants for its boys.
Brother Owen asked: “Why do we sometimes hesitate to let the youth lead? Perhaps we notice their weakness and inexperience, and so we doubt their ability. But the Lord sees them differently. He sees not just who they are but who they can become. This is why He gives youth as young as 12 the responsibility to lead deacons quorums …whether they admit it or not, most youth look to us for cues about how much to expect of themselves. So set the bar high, and then train them in ways that will help them meet our expectations. They will probably make mistakes; they may even disappoint us at times. But over time, and with encouragement and training from loving leaders, they will grow to become the leaders they were meant to be.”
“Years from now, today’s young men and young women will be where their leaders are now. In the meantime, if we strive to be with them, connect them with heaven, and let them lead, they will be prepared to be the next generation’s ‘impact teachers.’”
Author: Stephen W. Owen | General Young Men President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.