Wednesday, October 2, 2013

what teaching sunday school has taught me.


in july of last year, i temporarily took over teaching the junior high sunday school kids. i remember at the end of class on that first sunday, i sat in the empty room, tears rolling down my cheeks and questions filling my mind. the kids didn't pay me any attention and they didn't like my ideas.

i felt defeated.

[fast forward fourteen months to present day] as class ended last week, i quietly marveled at my Creator while nine kids bustled about, completely oblivious to my big, goofy smile and overflowing heart. God has taken me on a crazy, fun, hard, fulfilling journey that has completely changed my life. His provision has guided me, and His grace has carried me on a path that is full of His fingerprints and divine intervention. it has been filled with ups and downs, and i have learned many lessons along the way. 


- kids learn by example. if i'm gonna talk the talk, i best be walkin' that walk. how can i teach them about Jesus if i don't know Him? how can i tell them to read their bible if i don't take time to do so each day? i can't lead them to Jesus if i'm not walking toward Him as well.

- learn the strengths of each kid. i have one boy who is artistically gifted. instead of making a poster, i have him do it before class. i have multiple kids who love to read out loud, so they read the scriptures for me. i love watching the kids excel and grow as they learn about Jesus.

- some kids have a home life that is less than ideal. not all kids are raised in the church. not all the kids' parents come to church with them. during prayer requests last week, a girl asked for prayer for her dad because he drinks and he's mean. my heart... it broke into a million little pieces. there are times i wish i could buy a big house and have them come live with me so i can protect them from situations and circumstances no kid should have to witness.

- pray for the kids throughout the week. some have no one praying for them. my prayer is that God will open their hearts and ears to what He has to say. i pray that as they go out into the world, He will guide and protect them from the enemy's snares. and i pray that they will see their need for His love and grace.

- preparation, preparation, preparation. i spend at least an hour each week preparing that sunday's lesson. i read the material, study scripture, and look for ways to present it on their level. (i'm a total nerd because i love preparing the lessons each week. sitting at my desk with my bible, lesson materials, pens & highlighters, and coffee is the highlight of my saturday morning.)

- pray before each lesson. this sounds like a given, but in the beginning, i was so focused on getting everything prepared before the kids got to class that i let prayer go by the wayside. i have to take a moment and give it to God and let the Holy Spirit work through me.

- share personal testimony and experiences. just because i teach sunday school doesn't mean i am perfect. i stumble and i sin just like everyone else. when i share my struggles, it opens the door for discussion and ultimately points to God's wonderful forgiveness and grace.  

- they are listening, even if it doesn't seem like it. for the longest time, i wondered about this one. but time and time again, they prove me wrong by recalling lessons and stories and scripture. this also goes beyond teaching sunday school. they are listening to the words i say to others and watching my actions outside of the classroom. even though they wildly bounce off the walls all the time, they are very observant.  

- be involved in their lives. each week, i start the lesson with two good things from the week. usually when the kids walk in, they are eager to tell me the good things that happened to them over the week. that makes me smile.

- develop relationships. this is so important to me. when i started teaching, i only knew a few of the kids' names. over the course of the last year, i have come to love and treasure each of the kids. i want them to know they have someone in their corner; someone who will give advice or be a listening ear.

- they just want to be loved and accepted. my mission is to point them to the One who is true Love and will take them as they are.

- they are teaching me, too. more than they will ever know. and i am so incredibly thankful for this opportunity to tell them about my Jesus. sunday mornings are my favorite part of the week. God brought me to this place i never saw for myself. His plans are for His glory and my good, even when i can't see the why and how.



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