Authenticity when speaking or teaching

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Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Jan 2015, 05:27

I like to be authentic when I speak or teach. Most topics I can just turn into a more general "love your neighbor" or I can focus on a part of the topic or lesson that I do believe. If I were to be asked to give a lesson or talk on prayer, for instance, I'd have a tough time and it's difficult to turn a subject like that into something else. I could try to focus on the Savior's example of prayer or other scriptural examples, but it ends up being difficult to fill the time when there are limited resources.

My question is, how do you all maintain authenticity (maybe integrity?) when given a topic you don't fully believe in? Any tips you can offer? In case you're wondering, I have an upcoming topic about something I don't believe in but I don't want this to turn into a specific discussion about the topic (and it's not prayer, I just used that as an example).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Post by nibbler » 06 Jan 2015, 06:19

It depends on the topic. ;)

Sometimes I'll try to look at the topic itself as being the letter of the law, spend time trying to discover the underlying spirit of the law, and then teach that.

If it's a talk at church you can usually find an angle. It's a bit more difficult to work within the confines of a correlated lesson.

For the most part class members do believe the topics, the topics can still be used as building blocks to help people make spiritual connections. For instance, you might not believe in prayer but you can use other people's belief in prayer to help people learn about how to connect with their spiritual side.

I was joking earlier, but it does depend on the topic. Some are harder than others. I try to not pass on teaching the topics that are more difficult for me. I'm certainly no expert at being authentic but I view it as a practice. I won't get better at being authentic until I weather a few storms. In other words I've got to accept that I'm not going to be able to come out of the box being 100% authentic, it takes time.

From time to time I'll see a thread where someone asks for advice on how to be authentic in giving a specific talk or lesson. Maybe we could have some sort of stickied thread for people. I know I've been reluctant to create a thread in the past, partly because I don't want to clutter, partly because I like to sweat things out for some reason. Still it would be nice to have a thread where there are several topics and several suggestions, a database of advice for any given topic.

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Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
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Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Post by Minyan Man » 06 Jan 2015, 07:17

I would use quotes or stories from other people I respect.

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Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Post by Meh Mormon » 06 Jan 2015, 07:59

As the secretarty in the HP Group, I am called upon to teach twice a year. It's usually after Conference and I need to pick a talk from that Conference. This last conference was tough because I didn't like ANY of the talks. I searched all the talks to try and find one that I could authentically teach. I finally gave up and asked the HP Group Leader for advice. He said to teach the last lesson in the manual because we would end up missing it due to an extra Stake Confernce we had this past year. The lesson was on preparation for the end of days. That I could teach about. The lesson went really well and I even used a line from an R.E.M. song!!!

I am dreading the next time I teach though. Hopefully there will be a good talk during Conference.

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Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Post by nibbler » 06 Jan 2015, 08:23

Did the group ever determine what Kenneth's frequency was? :D :angel:
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
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Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Post by rachael » 06 Jan 2015, 09:32

I faked it a lot and regurgitated the pablum we were spoon fed a tad (learned that skill in college) and just kept in in mind this too shall pass... in most assigned lessons I could find some gospel concepts backed up by standard works quotes to digress to ( however lessons on church history topics makes it an exercise in mental gymnastics.)

However I'm not the brightest crayon in the box and lack in abilities to articulate my thoughts. I became inactive because of having to contort the manual lessons into something I could feel good about presenting. Too audorous. There is no spirit when faking and no one gets anything out of it anyway except maybe a nap

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Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Post by Roadrunner » 06 Jan 2015, 09:59

Good question and yes it can be difficult depending on the topic and the specificity of the assignment. A few things I've done with topics that I don't agree with / don't' understand.

* Just change the topic and speak about what you want to speak. I heard a person do that in stake conference and openly acknowledge in conference that he was assigned a different topic by the stake presidency. Normally this is probably a bad idea but I know for the person that did this he is now a bishop so it didn't seem to reflect on him too negatively (or maybe it did which is why he's bishop).
* Find some personal experience or some other story that illustrates the topic but perhaps doesn't sound as "preachy" and which takes up a lot of time.
* Say at the beginning of talk that you struggle with the topic or that you don't understand it yourself, but that this is what the church teaches.
* Ask if you can have a different topic. Depending on the meeting and the assigner this may not be a big deal.

I've used each of these strategies and they can work pretty well.
Best wishes. It's difficult to give a talk about something you don't believe in.

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Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Jan 2015, 12:46

I teach what I believe - and, sometimes, I really heavily on discussion.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Post by Heber13 » 06 Jan 2015, 13:20

I don't have to share what I believe. I can share quotes and thoughts from lesson manuals or conference talks on what others believe.

And I can ask questions for the group to discuss what they believe.

I become the neutral facilitator with no personal agenda.

But I often find opportunities to challenge thought with questions that I legitimately have thought myself to see how others respond to it.

It's like taking marvel superhero stories and quotes, and applying them to youth situations on what they can learn in life, and fight for good, and fight for those who can't fight themselves, and with power comes responsibility. The underlying principles being taught I agree in, even if I don't believe it is real in some ways.

So...I find few topics I can't teach. For example...Word of Wisdom. Underlying principles of temperance and taking care of our bodies and such principles of the gospel can be taught, whether or not I believe in some blessing for abstaining as taught by the church.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Post by Man in the Arena » 06 Jan 2015, 17:21

What a great topic! I have had to be more open with myself and a few leaders about what I could do and what I believed in order to maintain my integrity. Unfortunately, trying to be authentic has led to my choice to become almost not involved at all on Sunday and definitely not on the path to any sort of spiritual edification.

It is difficult for me because I loved being in the 20% club (those members that work themselves to death carrying the weight of the Ward on their shoulders). Callings have been difficult to accept and probably won't come anymore (except for home teacher and potentially door greeter) in part because I know what I'd be expected to do and say and I just couldn't do it and maintain my integrity anymore.

I know not everyone here is in the same boat as me, but it's difficult to go to church every Sunday and listen to teachings about the Church and the restoration that you don't believe anymore. It's not even the mental gymnastics that you've got to make at church to be a believer in the Church, I've given up on even attempting the gymnastic exercise. I used to teach and somewhat enjoy it, but now I wouldn't even know what to say. It's really tough for me and rather depressing. I wouldn't know how to be authentic when speaking or teaching if I was in a position to teach (especially the correlated version or mandatory topics and lessons). I feel adrift like I'm on a boat with a bunch of people who keep saying "the night time, is the right time." It's hard to be authentic when being authentic means telling them, no... no it's not .

I guess that is why my strategy has been... silence.

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