The scriptures often tell us to cast our burdens on the Lord. How does one do this? Please help. I need to teach a lesson on this in two weeks!
Why don’t you ask your class? I find that in teaching a church class I am really leading a discussion among class members. I value their input, especially when it comes to living the doctrine. I find that the best questions for discussion and participation aren’t about the doctrine itself, as that is quickly answered with a factual response, and then we move on – but the questions that get members most invested in a lesson are the ones that cause them to reflect on the gospel in their own lives. As they answer, you’ll find a fulfillment of the classic revelation on teaching: “Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.” Their answers will edify you.
Additionally, this was the guiding principle for teaching in the School of the Prophets. “Appoint among yourselves a teacher” – you have been duly called and sustained by the common consent of your class; “and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings”. This is what you are facilitating, a class discussion that’s not chaotic with everyone speaking at once to get their thoughts in; “that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all.” This is the result, a whole class that’s edified because they’ve grown from the input of a council rather than a single teacher.
Now, this approach comes with risks. It means less control for you as a teacher. You don’t get to dominate the lesson. And that also means if the discussion runs dry you need to be prepared to move the lesson forward. One technique to prevent that is to ask additional questions to follow up with a response. For instance:
[after some introduction to prepare everyone for the lesson]
Teacher: Psalms 55:22 tells us to “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” [this scripture is already on the board in large print for everyone to refer to]. What do you think it means that the Lord will sustain you? [this is a fairly focused question, so the teacher expects only a few responses]
Class member: I think it’s like that poem about the footprints in the sand. When life gets too tough, God will carry you through the challenges.
Class member: I don’t think the Lord necessarily carries us all the time. I think there are often times when He instead strengthens us to handle our burdens.
Teacher: Thank you both for your thoughts. Can you think back on your life when you’ve felt the sustaining hand of the Lord? [this is to get the class to personally reflect]. How did you cast your burden on the Lord, and how did He sustain you? [this is to get the class to share].
Class member: I remember before moving here I was uncertain what was best for my life. I had a job offer here and one local, and they both looked pretty good. After thinking about it, I felt like this one was a little bit better, but I was still uncertain and didn’t feel like I was getting an answer when I prayed about it. Finally I threw my hands up and said, “Heavenly Father, I’m going forward with this plan. Make it clear if I need to stop.” And here I am.
Teacher: And how did you feel sustained in the transition? [here’s the follow up question that provides an opportunity for testimony of the principle].
Class member: It took a lot of stress off, since I had finally committed to a decision. And I feel like the move was a lot less stressful than most of the my past relocations.
Teacher: Thanks! That’s such a great example. Who else has felt the Lord sustain you as you’ve cast your burden on him?
[other examples are shared]….
Sometimes, class members are reluctant to share sacred experiences they’ve had. Don’t try to press the issue, but you can either provide an example of your own or one from your lesson material. Here you can read an example from Elder Bednar’s talk “Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease” and follow up with questions like “How did Alma and his people cast their burden on the Lord? How did the Lord sustain them?”.
You can also use breaks in the discussion to transition to other principles. These may be questions that you’ve prepared beforehand, or they may be principles that were introduced in the course of discussion:
Teacher: Sister Snow shared that she felt the Lord sustain her through the service of others. How can we be the Lord’s hands in sustaining those that are burdened?
Let the class contribute to your lesson, “that all may be edified in all”. If you will be teaching regularly you should consider taking the teacher improvement class if your ward offers it. If they don’t, pick out two or three class members each lesson to give you honest feedback on the lesson: where it lagged, where it was rushed, what could have improved it, etc. You can also study Teaching: No Greater Call.