Four A’s for the Teacher
So you have a Sunday School class! Good! But what kind of a teacher are you? Have you checked up on yourself lately to see if you are all that you ought to be, or all that you could be with a whole-hearted effort?
The student in day-school may presume that he is doing well in his studies until he faces the examinations. Later his report card shows C or D where he expected to receive A. Only then does he realize the need for greater effort to reach his desired goal.
Self-examination on the part of the Sunday School teacher may similarly reveal shortcomings and deficiencies which are preventing greater success in the work of the Lord. Such findings will banish complacency and stir the heart to strive more earnestly in the development of the necessary qualifications.
This article brings four tests for the Sunday School teacher. Examine yourself by them and see if you rate an A in each.
The first requirement is
Affection For Children
This principle is taught in the Scripture. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have… fill in any attribute or natural qualification you wish!)… and have not love, it profiteth me nothing” (Read 1 Cor. 13:1-3).
Love is a requisite for service. You must love the little ones in your class with the heart of the Lord Himself. You must consider them as your own treasured gift from the Heavenly Father, entrusted to your care that they may be taught the Truth of God and be won in faith to the Saviour. Paul could say, “The love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Cor. 5:14). This is the motivating power behind the true Sunday School teacher.
Love is also the reward for sacrifice. No mother withholds the care and attention which her baby needs, nor does she complain of her extra burden of work when the little one is sick or suffering. Her love creates the will to spend and be spent for the one who is so dear to her heart. The only reward she seeks is given to her when he recovers health and then grows and develops as a normal boy should. Similarly, the burdens of the Sunday School class become light when the teacher has a deep affection for the children in her care. Her service becomes a labour of love.
Affection is not only demanded in our service; it is deserved by the child. This is especially true of the poor youngster, or the one who comes from a home where the parents show no interest in spiritual things. Many children could cry, “No man cared for my soul” (Psa. 142:4). No one has any interest in their spiritual welfare or their eternal state; that is, unless you, as the teacher, love and care for them.
This affection can be acquired and developed by the exercised teacher. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and is produced within the heart that is truly devoted to the Lord and yielded to His will. The compassion of the Saviour is surely engendered in the teacher who looks upon the pitiable sight of children who have no one to pray for them or to lead them to the source of salvation and life.
The second test to show how you rate as a teacher is your
Aptitude For Teaching
This topic covers the preparation and the presentation of the lesson. The first step is the choosing of a subject for your lesson. Let it be something that will capture the interest of your scholars; something that will be aimed at the level of their understanding and mental capabilities. Pray for the Spirit to guide you in this, even as a servant who seeks orders from his Master.
Having set upon a topic, gather all the material you can about the subject. Compare other passages of Scripture for further enlightenment, and learn what is taught in the Bible about the characters in the story, the places where they lived, etc. Use reliable reference books or Bible dictionaries for other background material. Have your subject well prepared and clearly outlined in your mind before you go to your class.
In telling the lesson, speak so as to control the interest of every member of the class. The tone of your voice is a great help; avoid monotones, or shouting. At a tense part of your story, lower your voice and watch the children draw closer to catch your words. Even a whisper will arouse the curiosity of an otherwise unattentive child!
The use of vivid word pictures, as well as visual aids, will enable the class to see the action of the story with the mind’s eye. Always use simple language, keeping in mind the admonition of Paul, “Except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.” (1 Cor. 14:9).
In telling the story, utilize the element of suspense; this will always hold the attention. Above all, let your lesson lead up to one point of application and then be sure that the point is definitely impressed upon your listeners. Remember that you are a teacher to instruct the children, and not an entertainer or a mere “baby-sitter” to keep the children quiet.
Strive to cultivate the aptitude of teaching and never allow yourself to become complacent in your present attainment. Do not become discouraged even if you feel you are not as gifted as you would like to be; the Lord only desires your best. Remember, though, that your best six months hence should be much beyond what it is now.
Consider now, briefly, what grades you merit for your
Attitude In Service
Sunday School work, like all activity for the Lord, demands full-time service; there is no room for half-heartedness. God expects our best and He deserves it. “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently” (Jer. 48:10 Margin). In contrast, consider how highly Hezekiah is commended. “In every work that he began … .he did it with all his heart, and prospered” (2 Chron. 31:21)
Some teachers think little of leaving the class on Sunday for the slightest excuse. Others come to teach with little or no preparation of the lesson, then wonder why the children show so little interest. Remember that teaching is not a hobby to occupy the spare time. Let every other plan or arrangement take second place to that which you do for the Master and, like Hezekiah, you will prosper.
The fourth test of the Sunday School Teacher is
Anticipation Of Results
Do you pray earnestly and sincerely for blessing upon the Word which, week by week, is sown as seed in the young hearts? The Scriptures are full of exceeding great and precious promises, but we must claim them when we bow the knee in the presence of God. So often the words of James would condemn us: “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (Jas. 4:2).
Teach your lesson as though you are expecting the children to respond to the gospel invitation and conclude your lesson with an appeal for acceptance of the Saviour. This must be done with wisdom, taking into consideration the age of the scholars and their knowledge of the Truth. Undue pressure must not be used lest the work of the Spirit be hindered by the operation of the flesh in its impatience.
In concluding this article, one final thought is added. Do not be discouraged or tempted to give up your work for the Lord, even if you do not consider yourself to be all that is desired of a Sunday School teacher or children’s worker. Rather, study to make improvements constantly and above all, seek wisdom and grace from above to become “a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21).