2016 marks the 6th year that I’ve had the privilege of serving as a Sunday school teacher for my home church. I first and foremost give glory to God for the ability to teach God’s Word while at the same time being a student myself. I’m also grateful for the Rev. Donna Vanhook blessing me with an opportunity to be an assistant teacher for our young adult Sunday school class. Until I had the opportunity, I did not know that I had the capability to lead God’s people in the study of His word. Currently I serve as a teacher of the youth and adult Sunday school classes still at my home church. There are several lessons I’ve learned as a result of teaching Sunday school that I would like to share with you all.
- Remain a student even in teaching the Word of God. One of the current problems that is discussed in the Christian faith is that many people who teach and preach do not see themselves as students of what they are teaching. A lot of times they focus on distributing the information without applying it to their own lives. Teaching people the Word of God is a privilege, but should be taught in a spirit of humility. It is hard to teach God’s Word with validity when our lives contradict what we teach. I have had moments where I thought about quitting my teaching assignment because my life wasn’t totally in sync with what I taught. It is still a struggle, but what helps is having that awareness of that reality. The Bible makes it clear that those who teach have even greater accountability (James 3:1). Therefore, before I teach anybody anything from the Bible, I must do an evaluation of myself to see what areas of my life need application of what I’m teaching. One last element of being a student in teaching is doing more facilitating than telling. In my opinion, teaching God’s Word should be a conversation between the teacher and the students about whatever the topic is. When everyone does their homework, learning can take place and this learning isn’t just limited to the students. When a teacher walks away from a lesson with the mindset of “wow, I didn’t think of it that way”, the teacher has done their job. As teachers we must remain teachable because regardless of our teaching status, nobody knows it all.
- Like any profession in life, preparation is the key. Let’s be honest for a moment: people know when you’re not prepared. When people have that sense that you’re not prepared, it takes away from the impact that could take place. Preparation says that we value what we’re doing and want to do it in a spirit of excellence. Excellence doesn’t equal perfection; it equals our best effort. While I have not perfected the discipline of preparation, preparation is such a fun part of what I do. Preparation is the proof to me that I’m doing what I’m passionate about. For those who are teachers of any sort, don’t you feel the joy that comes with discovering something that you can’t wait to share with your students? I remember one time specifically when I was studying something and the revelation from it was so on point that I literally ran a lap or two inside of my house. Preparation is crucial and says A LOT about how passionate you are about what you’re doing.
- Loving the students you teach supersedes the knowledge you share. As I said earlier, teaching God’s Word should be a conversation between teacher and student. This conversation should be based on what God has spoke to everyone through His word and not just one person. Therefore, loving our students should be a huge priority for us. I do not understand how one can preach to or teach people yet not have love for them. How do we show love to our students? We have to express care and compassion for them. Ask about how they are doing. Ask about how their family is doing. If they need assistance and we’re not able to give it to them, we should lead them to resources that can help. We also love people by treating them with respect. I believe people will buy into your teaching more when you show not only that you know the material, but show that you have genuine love and care for them. This is very vital for me in teaching the youth. I want the youth not to just see me as their Sunday school teacher, but as one willing to pray for and love them. I try as hard as I can to interact with the kids I teach outside of the Sunday school teaching time. With everyone you teach, you don’t know the struggles that your students face outside of the teaching time. Sometimes your teaching time may be one of the very few times that your students experience God’s love genuinely.
If you are a teacher of God’s Word or a teacher in general, I pray that these lessons that I’ve shared with benefit you in whatever way possible. Teaching is a rewarding experience that I’m thankful to do every chance I get. May I use the teaching gift for God’s glory and God’s glory alone, amen!