Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Help us Out ladies!

I was talking to a good female friend of mine last night. We've known eachother several years and have many deep conversations. Last night we were on the topic of how women choose to reject men and the excuses they use to do so.

For example, a guy gets up all his courage to ask out a girl. After small talk he finally gets the guts and asks, "So, would you like to go to dinner Thursday night?"

Now lets say that the girl in her mind know's full well that she is not actually all that interested in the guy. Maybe she is just not feeling attracted to him, maybe his personality type is not right for her, maybe she is MORE interested in another guy and wants to keep her options open, or whatever reason she has for not being interested. So, girl thinks of some excuse like, "Oh, thanks for the invite but I already have plans with my girlfriends that night, sorry."

Guy cordially ends the conversation and hangs up.

Now I asked my friend why girls make up excuses, whether true or not (by that I mean, maybe the girl really had already made plans with her girlfriends) instead of just stating the real reason.

She responded with, "Well we don't want to hurt their feelings." That opened up a can for me, and I expressed some pretty heartfelt opinions of which I will express now.

I have been rejected my fair share by the lady folk, and I have come to learn that MOST women, at least those I associated with, are not cold heartless man-eating beasts, who delight feasting upon the shattered remains of broken hearts, crushed hopes and dreams, while drinking the bitter tears of their failed suitors. But I have found that women can be indecisive, a little careless, maybe selfish, and lacking courage to not only speak the truth but to be forthright with their intentions and interest level.

So why would I say that a girl is not being truthful when she makes an honest excuse to a guy such as, "I am spending time with my girlfriends that night." I feel it is wrong not because it is not true, but because it is MISLEADING.

The guy after hearing that excuse has no real idea if the girl is really interested or not and he is left with all kinds of questions that will plague him and torture him. "Should I ask her out again?" "How long should I wait?" "Should I wait and see if she tries to contact me next? "Should I call her again?" "Is she really interested?" "Is she lying and has another date that night?" And so and so forth. If you girls think that because you have successfully avoided a date with a guy by making an excuse (whether true or not) that you have been "honest" with him I must disagree.

Now if you are truly a good natured woman, and legitamately do not want to hurt the guy, and you know by going out with him you will just lead him on more, good for you, you are close. I do not believe in pity dates, or giving a guy a chance if you just know for sure you are not going to be excited to go out with him. Being disinterested is NOT a sin, but you can take you good nature and desire not to hurt the guy to the next level; and that is by not only being honest about why you can't go out that night, but also why you are not interested in going out with him at all.

This is hard I know, and takes a lot of courage. But think of it like this....

We all know relationships are difficult, dating is a major pain in the rear and NO one likes to reject any more than anyone likes to get rejected. My heartfelt apologies too all you super beauties out there who must continually reject constant solicitians for romance by unwanted suitors, that is the lot for you ladies, just as it is the lot for some of us men to feel the continual lack luster enthusiasim expressed by an uninterested girl as she attempts to "not hurt us," by honestly misleading us.
But if you are truly interested in not hurting that poor guy that just doesn't quite meet your standards, think of it like this...

You have two options.

#1 You can turn the guy down temporally for the one date by being honest but misleading and giving him an excuse that is surficial, and not the real reason why you are not going out with him. This approach will guarantee to cause him more pain, and this pain will be dragged out through several weeks, months, or even years as the guy is not really sure where he stands with you. To me, this is cruel, and disrespectful behavior.

#2 You can buck up, and break that poor gents' heart right then and there with no mixed words, and be completely honesty and NOT misleading. A statement like, "I am so flattered that you would ask me out, but I am not interested in a romantic relationship with you, and feel it would be wrong of me to lead you on by going out with you." OUCH! Yes, it will hurt the guy, but in a FAR less cruel and lasting manner. He will get off the phone, maybe call his guy buddies and complain for awhile, and then move on! In a week or so he will have moved onto his next rejection...

If you take option #1 the guy may eventually get the clue and stop purusing you, but I guarantee he will not appreciate or respect the manner in which you rejected him. He will probably tell his guy buddies and female friends at how you were dishonest and misleading towards him. He will probably have a hard time being your friend afterwards as he will feel like you are not respectful. But more than anything you will have hurt him a lot more, and for a longer period of time. (Wasn't your intention in making an excuse NOT to hurt him?)

If you take option #2, Guy will still be hurt, probably, as I said no one likes to be rejected. If you were his princess, yes his hopes and dreams will still feel crushed. BUT, I guarantee he will have a greater deal of respect for you, and maybe will even be cool being friends with you and nice to you once his tender heart has mended a little, because you will have only hurt him a little and only once.

I remember a girl right after my mission that I had taken out once. When I called and asked her for a second date, she stumbled to find the words but finally said with courage and respect, "Paul, I have lead guys on in the past and I don't want to do that to you, I just want you to know that I am not interested in you romantically..." I was shocked. I was hurt. But I got it over it really quickly. And I always, always respected her for being SO respectful of my feelings. It is NOT wrong to be disinterested in a guy, and guys understand that, they may not admit it, but they understand it. But although you may be disinterested that does not mean you have the right to be disrespectful and misleading, because that is wrong.

That young lady and I did enjoy a friendship over the years, she married and has a baby and last I saw her was doing very well and is happy. She and I sat and chatted like good friends for about 30 minutes after a wedding reception where we ran into each other. However, for the girls who were misleading, lacked the courage to tell me not only the convenient truth, but the inconvenient truths as well, I do find myself having a hard time being friends with them or respecting them as friends on into the future.

So my lady friends, each of us are planning on getting married only once, that means a LOT of rejections and being rejected. Maybe we can all make the dating process a little less terrifying by just being honest with our interest level off the bat.

And now for a list of honest excuses I have received from girls who have turned me down either for dates or relationships....

-I have a girls night
-I am watching softball
-I am scrapbooking with my mother
-I have to study
-I have class the next morning
-I have so much to do, I don't know how I'm going to get it all done!?
-I am honestly booked up this entire month (that cracked me up)
-I am not dating right now (I almost said, I know, that's why I'm asking you out, hahaha)
-Maybe we can get a group of friends and do something, in a group! (not quite what I was going for)
-I have a hair appointment (yeah, I litereally got that one)
-Um, I'm busy can I take a raincheck ('m going to write a whole other blog on why I hate it when girl's ask for rainchecks, big pet peeve of mine, maybe I'll write on that one next.)
-I just got into a relationship with another guy
-I don't feel safe when you hug me
-I just don't know where you're coming from
-Maybe antoher night (we all know maybe pretty much always means no)
-I told my roommate I'd help her with homework
-I prayed about it and know I'm not going to marry you (can't argue with that)
-Something came up last second (I later found out her ex-fiancee told her he put ME up to asking her out, so she cancelled on me)
-I just feel like you're going to break my heart (preemptive strike, I guess)

Ahhh, after 8 years of dating since my mission, I have seen it all....Well, except of course it just working out! hahaha

Be cool ladies, help us guys out by being straight up with us, we'll respect you for it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Teaching the Gospel

A friend of mine asked me for some advice on teaching a relief society lesson, and I wrote the following at one sitting with few corrections, haha. I have a tremendous passion for teaching Sunday School and thought maybe some people out there in blogger land might find some insight from what I have learned after serving as a missionary for 2 years, and a gospel doctrines teacher for 5 years.

Well if there is one thing I have learned about teaching the gospel it is that what you say is not nearly as important as how the material is presented.

The church has provided manuals with plenty of lesson material to insure that the content is unified across the globe and beneficial to the Saints. Our responsibility as teachers is not so much providing content, but providing presentation of material in a way that allows the class to become engaged in the content, and to grow spiritually from it.

Here are a few guide lines.

1. Start the lesson by giving the class something that everyone can do on their own and quietly. I have found this provides a spirit of unity, and allows the Spirit to begin to communicate with individuals of the class. One thing I do is have the entire class read quietly to themselves a portion of the scriptures being studied. In my opinion, don’t EVER do group activities, or split the class up and have them discuss as groups certain aspects of the lesson. I find this to be very distracting and adds a social pressure to the lesson, creating discomfort and apathy for many. But, if you approach the class and say something like, “I would like to give the Spirit the opportunity to inspire us as individuals to contribute to the discussion today. Please take a few minutes to read the following scriptures to yourself, and allow the Spirit to inspire your with any comments, experiences, or insight to these scriptures.” Then let the class read quietly for a few minutes and ponder quietly. There is a certain magic to having an entire class completely silent, studying the same passages of scripture in unity, with a purpose but without feeling a pressure to discuss those scriptures with a group or in front of the class if they don’t want to. If you want to give some sort of direction concerning the scriptures such as, “How can we see these scriptures play out in our lives today?” So they have a little bit of a spring board can also be of benefit depending on the type of scriptural passage you’re reading.

2. Let the class talk!!! Stand up there quietly and patiently, and wait for them to raise their hands. Don’t get nervous if things are quiet. A class will test their teacher; it is kind of a sub-conscious phenomenon. If you talk, the class will let you talk and talk. If you want to do all the work, they will let you, and if they choose to tune in every now and again, they will. If you want the class to be engaged and to actively participate, you need to show patience and restraint by standing quietly until they realize that you are not going to say anything, and the responsibility to contribute to the lesson belongs to all who are in attendance.

3. This goes along with number 2, ask questions, and NEVER answer your own question. Once you are in the lesson, find ways to ask open ended questions that don’t have 1 right answer as those questions do not prompt discussion, for example.

BAD QUESTION: What are the first four principles and ordinances of the gospel?

You can see how that question only has ONE correct answer, faith, repentance, baptism and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. A class will reluctantly answer that question, because it is boring, and does not cause them to think. Questions should be designed to challenge the class and prompt them to respond by asking a question that requires them to think, to feel, or to draw on their intelligence and experience. And most importantly a good question has NO wrong answer, for example.

GOOD QUESTION: Why do you feel that faith and repentance are the first principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Oh man, you ask a question like that, you’ll have a few second pause (again, stand patiently and do NOT say a THING, let the class know that they have to answer these questions, and that you are not going to bail them out. So many teachers do their classes a tremendous disservice by asking a question, and then before the class has time to think they already respond to their own question and commentate on it. A class will shut down very fast if you show them that you do not trust them to respond. Ask the question, and stand their patiently until someone responds. Sometimes I’ll even make a joke and say something like, “I have all day class,” just to make sure they understand that I am not going to bail them out) and I guarantee the class will raise their hands. You’ll probably have several. Make sure you address EVERY hand that has been raised. Just to help me remember if there are multiple hands I’ll point to all of them in order and say, “you first, then you, then you etc.” That way the class knows that EVERY comment and answer is going to be heard and validated. You will find that as people start making comments it will inspire other individuals who will want to respond and raise their hands. Everybody has a voice, this is not YOUR lesson, it is the Lord’s lesson, and everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the Spirit of the lesson by adding their inspired comments to the lesson.

Now here is the amazing part. If you have a good set up like I said, by allowing the entire class to read a scripture silently to themselves, you will get a good 5-15 minutes of discussion before you have even had to do ANYTHING. Once the comments stop from your opening scripture exercise then you can go to a more traditional approach of studying the lesson, using the technique of asking good questions. The important thing when you get to this phase is to make sure that you read scriptures with purpose and announce that purpose to the class. The purpose again should be open ended, for example

BAD PURPOSE: We are going to read Moroni 10:4 what does Moroni say we can do to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon?? Can I get a volunteer to read.

If you approach reading the scriptures like that, you are again going to get a lot of hesitation, because the question has only ONE right answer, “read and ask God.” If you want to create an atmosphere of spiritual discussion I would suggest an approach like this.

GOOD PURPOSE: WE are going to read Moroni 10:4, while we are reading this I want you to pay attention to how you feel about these verses and why you feel they are so significant to us today?

Or something along those lines, I think you get the idea. That way when the class is hearing someone read the scripture out loud, they have an open ended purpose that they can respond to. When the scripture is done being read, simply thank the reader and then say, “What did you feel?” And again, stand quietly, and let the class respond. By now, they will be so involved in your lesson that everyone will want to raise their hand first so they can make sure to get their comments in.

Here is the beauty part, if you have a good set up, and 2 or 3 solid “good questions” and “good approaches” to reading the scriptures, the class will do almost ALL the talking for you. All you need to do is come prepared before hand with what scriptures you feel are most significant from the class from the lesson material, (it can be any portion of the manual, quotes from prophets, the scriptures associated with the lesson, or whatever material is in the lesson manual. Do not try and bring in outside sources to a lesson, stick with the materials and resources in the manual, and the scriptures and doctrinal principles associated with those scriptures)

Here is my standard timeline for a 45 minute lesson

Min. 0-15 opening prayer, introduction to lesson, and then give class an opportunity to read to themselves and then respond.

Min. 15-40 Prepare 3-5 questions that relate to a different portion of the subject matter provided by the manual. Each question should allow the class to comment on those scriptures while also allowing the Spirit to further solidify gospel topics and doctrines to them. Be sure to include your own feedback as well, but NOT at the expense of the classes comments. Remember, the classes comments come first. It will be necessary, however, to help steer the class back on track if the comments start to stray from the subject matter. Think of yourself as a moderator, more than a teacher.

Min. 40-45 Always conclude with your testimony of the gospel, as well as a call to action to the class. “I pray we can all exercise greater faith,” that is kind of general, if you’re more specific its better, like, “I challenge all of you to read your scriptures at least 15 minutes a day this week,” or something like that, as well as your testimony as to why that has helped you, or how the lesson has impacted your life. If you have a testimony and passion of what you are teaching, your class will feel that and the Spirit will convey that to them as well.

A few more effective tools you can use is to bare your testimony several times throughout the lesson, it really breaks up the lesson and provides a powerful spiritual surge to the lesson. We have trained ourselves to bear testimony only at the end of our lessons, try to discipline yourself to bear your testimony throughout the lesson it will really benefit the class, especially if you bear testimony of things that have just happened, such as, “I want you to know that I felt the Spirit when you shared that experience with us, and I know that what you felt was the Spirit, because I feel it here with us now.” When you feel the Spirit in the lesson, and call attention to it and bear testimony that He is present right then, it really has a powerful effect on the lesson.

Again, this is all framework that will provide an atmosphere for the Spirit to teach a powerful lesson. Teachers get too concerned about trying to have some new incredible angle to approach a subject, or to have the most profound quote, or really they just want to set themselves up as being spiritual or full of knowledge. Ask yourself this question, who is more knowledgeable about any gospel subject, me, or the Holy Spirit?? My goal as teacher has been to teach as LITTLE as possible, I want the Holy Spirit to teach the lesson, as only HE knows what it is the class needs to hear, what it is they are struggling with, what experience and testimony they have had that they can share to the benefit of the class. If your lesson is on obedience, or faith, of the atonement, or prayer, or temple work, well let the Spirit decide what parts of the lesson will be beneficial, let Him inspire the class members to respond to the questions He has inspired you to ask. Prepare yourself with questions, prayer and humility, and let the Spirit handle the content. If you do this people will come up to you after “your” lesson and say, “That was the best lesson I have ever had,” or even, “you are the best teacher I have ever had.” I have heard those compliments so many times after my lessons, and when I hear them all I can say is, “It wasn’t me who taught that lesson it was the Spirit.” And you better believe He is a fantastic teacher, it was the Holy Spirit whom Christ said, “Will teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance.” (John 14:26)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

World cup vs. cup o' noodles

As the world gazes spell bound on fields of grass, as determined athletes push forward without the use of their arms I think to myself "why is the sport of soccer such a fascination in so many countries, but not so much in America?" Now I understand that soccer has its American supporters and participants, but when I compare the enthusiasm other countries exude for soccer to us Americans, I think it is safe to say that soccer is not America's sport. But why? Well I would like to offer one possible reason for this international contrast of athletic appreciation...

First, what sports are big in America? Baseball, Basketball and Football are what I would consider the top 3. Almost every major city in America has a professional team in each one of these sports. Where are the professional soccer teams? Did you even know there is a professional American Soccer league?? What's funny is I typed "American professional soccer," into google and I did not even see the current professional soccer league show up on the first page! America does have a pro soccer league called the MLS, Major League Soccer! What? Have you never heard of the MLS? You haven't been out to cheer on your favorite pro soccer team the Real Salt Lake, or the Kansas City Wizards!? You haven't stood around the water cooler at your work discussing the latest contest between the C.D. Chivas USA and the Houston Dynamo?? Yeah, neither have I. In fact I had to go to Wikipedia just to find out who the MLS teams are! But if I were to say "LA Lakers," or "Chicago Bulls," or "Dallas Cowboys," or "New York Yankees," just about every American, whether a sports fan or not, would at least recognize those team names! However, were you to travel to Brazil, England, Argentina, or just about anywhere else in the world, I would bet the exact opposite would be true. I bet those countries would be very familiar with their professional soccer leagues and teams, that is just an assumption however, I could be wrong.

My explanation for why soccer seems to take a backset in America, is that Americans have become accustomed to instant gratification and soccer provides none. We want our rewards NOW and our consequences later. We are the country of credit cards, easy mac', TV dinners, fast food, get rich quick schemes, fat pills, liposuction, 8 minute abs, virtual reality, gambling etc. etc. We seem to have lost a tremendous amount of appreciation for a hard days work, a warm cooked meal, a steady exercise routine, a relationship built on sacrifice and service and wealth built over years of toil and living within means. Now, what does any of that have to do with sports?

When I watch a world cup soccer game I observe two main things. First, there is a tremendous amount of effort and athleticism displayed in a soccer game. Constant running, sprinting, jumping, sliding, kicking and falling. There are constant changes of possession and very little stopping of play. There is something else that there is very little of as well, and that is SCORING! With all that hard fought and constant effort by both teams, the entire match may have 1 or 2 goals in the entire 90 minutes!!! But the pay off of those goals is SO worth it! But not to Americans! Consider a professional basketball game. In the NBA there is a literal shot clock! In essence the NBA is saying, "If you want to participate in our athletic competition you have 24 SECONDS to score a point, or we are going to take the ball away from you, and give it to a team who will provide some instant gratification, in 24 seconds or less!" Basketball is the microwave dinner of sports! Soccer is the turkey feast. You can have instant points every 24 seconds and watch basketball, or you can have your 90 minute slow roasted turkey feast at the soccer game.

But that is just my opinion. I mean no offense to my fellow hard working Americans. But be honest, I bet someone got bored in the middle of this blog and thought, "This is taking too long to read, isn't there a version of this blog that will fit in a 160 character text message??"