Teaching Trainwrecks

“Bob” was a gentleman in his 80’s who attended my Los Angeles ward. He was an endearing old curmudgeon, famous for coming to church dressed in these frilly, over-the-top outfits that looked like bad promwear from the 1970s. Bob was even more famous for his strident, dogmatic comments during church classes which were so out of left-field that they were actually a source of comic-relief for the class, rather than a source of offensiveness. Bob seemed to enjoy the attention that his obnoxiousness brought upon him, so it was a win-win situation for everyone involved. A number of years back, Bob really wanted a teaching calling, and the Bishop decided to oblige him. He was made an Elders Quorum instructor.

Bob’s lessons were absolutely, mind-numbingly dreadful. Despite constant reminders that he should teach from the manual, he would rarely do so, even though in his mind, he WAS doing so. If he ever did try to read a paragraph from the manual, between his bad glasses, his propensity to lose his place, and his refusal to let anyone else read, it was an unmitigated disaster. Furthermore, he spent hours and hours every week preparing elaborate outlines that he would put on a giant-sized notepad and which he would draw on with a marker throughout the lesson. The lessons (and the notepad) were incoherently organized (despite his sincere attempts to organize them) and they always managed to be about the same thing.

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