I’m teaching the Elders’ quorum this Sunday coming and the phrase I keep returning to in my pondering is “watch over, be with, and strengthen” (ref). In context, of course, this phrase refers to the teacherâ€™s duty, as an ordained member of the Aaronic Priesthood, to build and sustain the Church, to help hold the body of Christ together, by keeping the senses trained on its members and by reminding the Saints, in word and deed, to do their communal duty. While this may seem a heady chore to heap onto a fourteen- to fifteen-year old boy, this principleâ€™s use as the foundation for the home and visiting teaching programs extends its reach beyond the Aaronic Priesthood holderâ€™s ken into a supporting fixture of full and vigilant fellowship with the Saints.
Itâ€™s that reach, and the administrative rhetoric derived from and meant to support it (i.e. the language used by teachers and leaders—however [in]effectively—to motivate those they lead), that Iâ€™m primarily concerned with at the moment.
In the past couple of months, the EQ presidency in my ward has turned up the heat as regards the quorum’s pretty poor home teaching record (which, I think, is quite standard throughout the Church) and the tune of “Get your butts out the door and visit your families, people” has been sung in most of our meetings lately, though in a softer, more dancing-through-the-daisies tone. The presidency (of which I am a secretarial part) seems honestly concerned more about the people than the numbers (although I don’t know what pressure, if any, is coming from the higher-ups), so their honesty comes through somewhat in the constant reminders to “get out and get it done, brethren” and in the recent need theyâ€™ve felt to implement home teaching interviews for each companionship.
As a relative newcomer in the quorum and as an acute observer of and in the presidency, Iâ€™ve watched this movement with some interest and my line of thinking in this motivational regard has started to take a different shape, directed, I think, by my rhetorical focus lately. More specifically, this teaching opportunity (which comes around once every quarter or so) has me pondering how I might best facilitate changes in my own—and even the presidency’s and quorum instructors’—administrative rhetoric such that those on the receiving end are led toward sustainable change in their lives.
In other words, I’m wondering how I can begin to best facilitate the deeper work of conversion I lamented for in yesterdayâ€™s post in my fellow laborers, how I can use the fruits of my language to care for and to be with and strengthen them in their continued efforts to know God such that they’re inspired (beyond bribery, manipulation, and the need for constant reminding and admonition—some of the fruits, I think, of administrative rhetoric) to help others know Him, too.
What say you rhetorician Saints of the radical middle? Iâ€™m interested in your thoughts as I gather mine in preparation in teach the elders this Sunday.