To answer this fully I must go back a few years. I came to Christ during the summer before starting middle school which made for a very challenging transition to say the least as my new nature clashed with the new surroundings and people and attitudes I encountered. Instead of thriving I nearly withered under near daily
bullying of both physical and emotional kinds from the kids – some of whom had been my friends only months before in elementary school. I succumbed to a spirit of fear and was so gripped by it that I was afraid to simply raise my hand to use the restroom or to sharpen my pencil. There is nothing so terrifying at that age as to be laughed at and to be continually mocked. This went on for 3 years. Still, God was with me through it all. I had some peace the last 2 years of school, but while the physical bruises may go away mentally they remained. It was hard to hold my head up and I struggled with a terrible bitter attitude. While still in church all this time, it was several years later that I began to really seek the Lord . He brought me to the fact that I needed to forgive these folks who had wronged me and that He would somehow use this crippling fear that had held me in bondage so long to serve Him. I promised Him that I would use any opportunity He sent me . I have been blessed to have the honor of teaching or speaking in a couple of local churches and even in Romania – to God be the glory! So to answer the question, I teach not because I am good at it (give me 5 minutes and I’ll prove it!) but because it is a way I can glorify God and thank Him for all He has done and is doing in my life.
What kind of preparation do you do?
Well, I usually get an idea for a unit study a couple of months out and then hope I have an opportunity to teach! Usually an idea comes to me and it is something I am fascinated with and excited about and I assume (hope) others will be as well.Sometimes I will start writing down key points and then fill in as I go. I have a different kind of life than normal folks. With my work I have to drive for long stretches of the day which means I don’t have much time to study during the days. Thankfully I am slowly coming into the technology of the 21st century which means I can listen to hours of sermons and lectures on the topic I am teaching on and jot down some notes while driving.(don’t try this at home folks!) I also stay in a hotel 2 nights a week which affords me some quiet hours of study, but actually , lest you think I am perfect, I have to watch my time as I am guilty of watching too many cat videos on YouTube instead of preparing for my lesson at times! Somehow by God help it all comes together and I pray it is used by God for His glory.
What’s been a favorite topic?
I really have enjoyed learning about the attributes of God. This is such a foundational topic because what think about God really determines so much about our lives and how we live. I also remember an epic 13-week study on the sermon on the mount. I got applause when I finished that one, but I think the folks were just glad it was finally over!
What role has Sunday school played in your life?
I can remember being in Sunday school as long as I can pretty much remember. It
has always been an important part of my life. I can remember the little flannel graph people and crafts and “scripture scramble” and wonderful saints now gone to glory who cared enough to share the love of Jesus to me. Robert E Lee once said that “One’s education is not complete until he is dead” and how much more for the Christian? We should always be learning something new about our great God and Sunday school is a wonderful place to learn from.
What do you hope your students take away from your classes?
I had a preacher in the church I grew up in who prayed sometimes before he would preach ” Lord, hide me behind the cross.” There was a cross on the wall behind the pulpit area and I was mischievous enough to wonder how on earth God was going to do that as the preacher was rather short and stocky! It wasn’t till later that I understood what he was meaning. Really all our best efforts need to be behind the cross – meaning Jesus needs to have the preeminence in what we say or do. I hope people do not look to me for any reason, rather I hope to point them to Christ. Brothers and sisters, I am not a professional (if you’ve ever heard me you know I am speaking the truth!), but my goal is to honor and glorify God and to help others learn of our great God. I hope this isn’t seen as self serving, but I am a Christian hedonist ( apologies to John Piper for using his term) when it comes to teaching. I really enjoy it because it grounds me to study and learn and I get excited about God from what I learn and I want to pass it along so others will (hopefully) get excited about who God is and what He is doing!
What do you say to someone who senses they may want to try to teach but feel unsure?
The main thing is to have a desire to serve the Lord and a love for people. It is good, though, to know what audience you best relate to. I love kids so much, but I find I can relate better to adults in a teaching situation.I tried to teach middle school kids a few years ago and I just couldn’t seem to connect with them and they wouldn’t listen very well so it wasn’t a great fit. I loved the kids and still do and try to encourage them as I can, but its good to know your area. The best thing is to check your motives, pray, and follow the leading of the Spirit. Believe me, with God’s help you can!