Five “C’s” for Superintendents
The superintendent, far from being a mere figure-head, is capable of making the Sunday School either a success or a failure. He, in most cases, is the major difference between a school which is alive and prosperous and one which is mediocre and listless.
Some practical suggestions therefore are offered which may prove helpful to those who at present hold this office or who may be called to fill such a position at some time in the future.
The Superintendent And Christ
The relationship of the superintendent to the Lord Jesus is of as vital importance as is essential the abiding of the branch in the vine for fruitfulness.
First of all, he must be a child of God through faith in Christ. No man can do the work of the Lord who first has not responded to the Saviour’s invitation, “Come unto Me.” If one has not been born again through receiving the Lord Jesus by faith, neither natural ability nor religious fervour are sufficient for the performance of his duties.
It is equally imperative that he be a servant under the control of Christ, the Master. Successful work for the Lord requires that he respond to the injunction of the Lord, “Take My yoke upon you.” He must know what it is to bow in submission to the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Having done this, he will yield his time and his talent unreservedly to labour without faltering or fainting even in the face of difficulties and discouragements.
Above all, the successful superintendent must be a scholar at the feet of Christ. He must ever be ready to respond to the Divine Teacher’s instruction, “Learn of Me.” He must become well acquainted with the Word of God. This will require careful and accurate memorizing of Bible verses and passages for ready reference. More than this, he must learn to rightly divide the Word of Truth, to grasp the meaning of the passages, and by the Spirit’s guidance to understand the true teaching of the Scripture portion under consideration. Timothy was enjoined to give attendance to reading, to meditate upon these things, and to study.
The Superintendent And The Church
The early disciples were sent forth, not only to preach the gospel, but, also, to teach the young believers to observe the commandments of the Lord and to walk in accordance with His truth. Those who engage in Sunday School work or in Child Evangelism should keep this in mind.
The superintendent of any Sunday School, therefore, should be in perfect accord with the doctrines of the church which is supporting the effort. One could not conceive of a man being happy in building up a work if he were not satisfied in his own mind that Scriptural principles were being practised there. For best results he must be in hearty fellowship with all those who are associated with the assembly so that they may strive together with him as one man for the faith of the gospel.
Every superintendent must be prepared to submit to the judgment and the will of the overseers of the assembly as enjoined by the Scriptures (Heb. 13:17. 1 Pet. 5:5). Even if personally he considers his brethren to be mistaken on some occasions, he should not act independently, but patiently wait for the Lord to solve the problem in His own time and way. On the other hand, the overseers should have such confidence in the superintendent as to let him supervise the Sunday School without interference.
The Superintendent And His Co-Workers
The relationship between the superintendent and the teachers is of great importance as the harmonious co-operation and progressive activity be maintained throughout the entire school. He must have their respect and be able to act as a leader and an organizer among them. To be these he ought not to act in an arrogant or arbitrary manner over them. A superintendent with a domineering attitude soon develops antipathy in the hearts of others toward himself. Much rather must he, through wise and amicable leadership and warm enthusiasm, inspire and encourage each teacher to give sacrificially his best at all times. He will also unite all the teachers in a whole-hearted effort for the growth of the school and the salvation of the young.
Furthermore, the superintendent should endeavour to instruct and train by his counsel and example younger teachers in order that they may be better fitted for their duties. He should watch also for the opportunities in which advice out of his own experience might help younger teachers to solve their problems.
A good superintendent will be on the look-out constantly for new teachers, manifesting the ability to discern latent qualities in a prospective candidate who may develop real gift in teaching children.
The Superintendent And The Children
No man should consider himself called of the Lord to children’s work unless he has a genuine love for the young. He must enjoy being in the company of children, and must be able, culturally speaking, to bring himself down to their level. He should learn the names of the scholars as quickly as possible, and become acquainted with the details of their home and school lives as well as with other matters of the child’s personal interest. Let him be careful not to show any favouritism, but to pay equal attention to all on the school roll, for by such means he will draw the children close to himself, and will hold their confidence, esteem, and affection.
The God-called superintendent will have a deep passion for the souls of boys and girls, and a prayerful desire to see them won for the Saviour in early life. Great wisdom is needed in speaking with children who show a desire for salvation, so that they may be led to trust the Saviour without undue and hurtful pressure.
The Superintendent And His Character
The man who is qualified for leadership in any children’s work must be of impeccable repute in the neighbourhood. He must be of high moral integrity and free from any shady rumours, even those not founded on facts. Only in this way will the parents have sufficient confidence to entrust their children to his influence, care, and teaching.
Nevertheless, the Sunday School superintendent must be governed by a higher standard than public opinion; as a servant of the Lord and of the church, he must conform to the qualifications of a deacon as given in the Word of God:
“Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 3:8-13).
The brother who in humility and sincerity aspires to these ideals in the fear of God will, doubtless, become a successful superintendent highly compensated for his labour of love with a prosperous Sunday School; he, moreover, will receive his Master’s approval at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
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It is dangerous to follow any business that you cannot pray about, and ask God’s blessing upon. Take part in the building of God’s spiritual Temple.
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It is well for us all when we are grounded upon what has been termed the impregnable rock of Holy Scripture. Resting on this foundation, opinions may come and opinions may go. but they will never be able to disturb the divine certainty of the soul that is able to say, “It is written.”