When Alma Heard This, He Turned Him About – Alma 32:4-7

4 Now, as Alma was teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah, there came a great multitude unto him, who were those of whom we have been speaking, of whom were poor in heart, because of their poverty as to the things of the world.
5 And they came unto Alma; and the one who was the foremost among them said unto him: Behold, what shall these my brethren do, for they are despised of all men because of their poverty, yea, and more especially by our priests; for they have cast us out of our synagogues which we have labored abundantly to build with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty; and we have no place to worship our God; and behold, what shall we do?
6 And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word.
7 Therefore he did say no more to the other multitude; but he stretched forth his hand, and cried unto those whom he beheld, who were truly penitent…

Alma was a perceptive teacher. When he came in contact with a group of people who were “in a preparation to hear the word” and “who were truly penitent,” he immediately began to teach them the gospel. Mormon tells us that Alma and his brethren had been teaching the word of God in homes, in synagogues, and in the streets (Alma 32:1). On this occasion, when Alma was teaching in a public place, he apparently had an audience, but not a terribly receptive one. When this other group of people approached him and were eager to learn, he didn’t waste any time in turning his attention to them and giving them the help they needed.
As teachers, leaders, and parents, we need to be prepared to teach when our students are ready to learn. It is not always our luxury to dictate the time and the place where learning will occur. Of course, we can and should work to create situations that might be conducive to learning. But learning is not an “assembly line” process. It happens one person at a time and largely on the student’s timetable, not the teacher’s.
Elder David A. Bednar counseled parents to watch for moments when their children are ready and willing to be taught:

A child’s expression about a lesson learned in family scripture study or a candid statement of concern about a gospel principle or practice can be most illuminating and help parents better understand a child’s specific question or needs. Such discussions—especially when parents are as eager to listen intently as they are to talk—can foster a supportive and secure environment in the home and encourage ongoing communication about difficult topics (“Watching with All Perseverance,” General Conference, April 2010).

Today, I will watch for moments when my children are teachable. I will make it a point to be prepared to teach, and I will strive to be adaptable enough to teach my children when they are ready to be taught.
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