Mormons (L.D.S.) usually grow up to be fairly confident public speakers. This is probably because in our church, we don’t have a paid clergy. The bishop (what most other Christian churches call the minister or priest) is called to serve on a volunteer basis, usually for about five years. During this time, he keeps his day job. In our main worship service (Sacrament Meeting) on Sundays, members of the congregation participate by giving assigned talks on gospel topics. So instead of hearing a sermon from the same person each week, we take turns teaching each other.
In Primary (Sunday school for children), our kids have opportunities to give talks from a very young age. Before they’re old enough to read or memorize, a parent will stand beside them and whisper the words they’ve rehearsed. A child spends much of the two minutes he’s up there breathing heavily into the microphone while the parent repeatedly prompts. Even as they get a little older, a parent will usually help the child write his or her talk. I used to help my kids. (Sometimes I didn’t know about the assignment until we were sitting in Sacrament meeting. Or I knew, but had forgotten. I’d round up a piece of paper and pen and scrawl out a talk for whichever child it was.) I’d write it out for them right down to the closing of “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” And then I always put, in parentheses, the words “Now go sit down.” I thought this was funny. And they thought it was funny, when they practiced giving the talk, to say aloud “Now go sit down” after they said Amen.
Our boys are encouraged to serve two-year missions for the church when they turn nineteen. It’s customary for them to give a talk in Sacrament meeting before they leave and again after they return home. We recently had one son return from serving a mission in Brazil and another one leave to begin his mission to Germany within a week of each other. They were asked to speak in church on the same Sunday. They both did an excellent job. Their dad and I were very proud. Later in the day, I found the younger son’s typed-out talk lying on the kitchen counter. I looked it over and noticed on the last page, after he had actually typed out “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen,” he had added the parenthetical phrase: Now go sit down. I laughed and laughed. He said “I always write that when I give talks, Mom.” It has been many years since he’s needed my help. I told the older son about this. He immediately went and found the scribbled notes he’d used to give his talk and showed them to me. At the end, he’d scribbled, in parentheses, “Now go sit down.”
It was my second proud moment of the day. I hope they keep up the tradition when they’re writing out talks for their own children someday.