Be-Attitudes for Teachers: A Devotional for Sunday School & Other Bible Teachers
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Phil. 3:12)
A story is told of a man who was in his yard with his bow and arrow. A neighbor came by and was astounded at seeing an arrow in every bulls-eye. "I didn't know you were so good!" exclaimed the neighbor. "How do you always hit the bulls-eye?" "That's easy," came the reply. "I shoot and wherever the arrow lands, I go and paint the target around it."
Without goals, you too will tend to make things up as you go along. You will just shoot the truth out toward your students and be settled with whatever happens. If, however, you want purposeful learning to take place, you need to set goals for your teaching. That will help you know how to structure your classes so that what you intend happens.
"But I don't want to put a straight jacket on the Holy Spirit by becoming too rigid," some may caution. "Won't I negate the work of the Holy Spirit by setting goals and structuring for things to happen?"
In Scripture you will find many principles about planning and wisely using your time and resources:
- Be warned against doing what feels right at the moment. If you use reactions to the current experience or emotion as an indication of God's leading, you run the risk of error.
Prov. 19:2 - "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way."
Prov. 14:8 - "The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception."
- It is not unspiritual to weigh matters and to seek discernment before acting. In the context preceding the command to be filled with the Spirit comes the exhortation to be careful, wise, and sure of what you are doing rather than to be out of control as people are when they are drunk with wine.
Eph. 5:15-17 - "Be very careful, then, how you live --not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."
- Part of God's character is to carefully plan and have purpose in what He does. If people are made in His image, the potential is for them to do likewise.
Eph. 1:11-12 - "In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory."
1 Cor. 14:33, 40 - "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. ... But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."
- Planning, strategizing, and setting goals are part of being a good steward.
Matt. 25:14-30 - In the parable of the talents, those who were rewarded were those who came up with a plan to invest their talents.
The work of the Spirit will never be in conflict with the teaching of Scripture. If the Word encourages you to be purpose-driven, then the Spirit will work in and through it. The safeguard against stifling the work of the Spirit is not to avoid planning and goal-setting but to work in cooperation with God.
Prayer helps keep you in check as you depend on His guidance and wisdom each step of the way. Envelop the whole process with prayer from beginning to end.
You can count on the right direction being that which lines up with the purposes God has already shared in Scripture. Take the following quiz to see how well you know God's purposes. You can look up the verses later.
Ephesians 1:4 - He chose us in Him to be
a. faithful church goers
Romans 8:29 - For those God foreknew he also predestined to
a. have eternal life
b. be healthy, wealthy, and wise
c. be conformed to the image of His Son
Colossians 1:28-29 - We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone
a. complete in Him
b. knowledgeable of the Holy Scripture
c. abundant in good deeds
If your goals are going to line up with God's intent then they will be that of seeing people become holy, Christ-like, and complete in Him. God desires more than external behavioral changes. God is most interested in who your students are becoming, not what they are doing. As their character conforms to that of Jesus Christ, they will end up doing what they should be doing.
Make His goal yours as you teach. As a purpose-driven teacher everything you do will work toward that goal. As a purpose-driven teacher you will see lives changed for His glory.
For Teachers: Write a short synopsis on why you are teaching and what you hope to accomplish through it. Read the following book: Teaching to Change Lives by Howard G. Hendricks. Then refine your synopsis in light of the insights you were able to personalize from your reading.
For Leaders: You need a healthy perspective on the purpose of the church in general to make sure the individual ministries under your oversight line up with the whole. Read The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren. (Youth leaders should read The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry by Doug Fields.) Also, make sure the book listed under the application for teachers is in your church's ministry library available to your teachers.
For Group Use: The best way to have your workers own your goals is to have them discover God's purposes on their own. Break into groups and distribute a list of the following verses to each group: Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:28-29. Have them study the verses together and come up with an overall goal for the educational ministry of your church and then specific aims for the particular program in which they are involved. Re-group and have them read their purpose statements. If your church has not yet drafted a purpose statement for your educational ministries, use their work as a basis. Get leadership's approval and begin to publicize and implement those goals. If you already have a purpose statement, see how what they wrote matches up to the pre-established statement. A word of caution, though --you may find yourself refining your statement which may be a good thing.
(Last updated 5/01/19)