Five Things Teaching Has Taught Me About the Teacher
CBM National intern, Paul Daly –
These past few weeks, I have been under the tutelage of Mrs. Judy Virgili, of CBM’s Cornerstone Ministry Center in southwest PA. Judy is a pioneer in Released Time and a fantastic teacher to children. She has taught me many things concerning how to communicate the gospel clearly to children, how to prepare a lesson, how to ask them questions, and how to catch and keep their attention.
Now that I have had the opportunity to have students of my own, I can reflect back on what I was like as a student of their age. It was difficult for me to route my train of thought to match my teacher’s. Nine times out of ten, I was either far behind, far ahead, or far “out there.” Part of me is glad that I have passed those student days. But the other part of me knows that I am far from being done with learning. Having the opportunity to teach as a Children’s Bible Ministries intern, I have learned valuable things about God and who He is to me.
The Bible often refers to our Creator and King as a Teacher (Isaiah 48:17, Psalm 32:8, John 3:2), and I would like to share five of those with you.
1) God Knows What He’s Talking About
Usually, you teach what you know. It would be an appalling travesty if I were to go to a college university and try to teach quantum physics when I don’t even know what quantum physics is (and how do you eat it?). Likewise with God, if there’s something He is teaching you, He already knows all about it. You can be confident that He has the answers to all the questions and remembers every detail that you might have forgotten. Additionally, He knows you and He knows how to teach you! (Psalm 1:47, 139:1-4)
2) God Has Prepared Something for You
You can know everything about what you’re teaching, but if you don’t prepare beforehand and organize your material for your students, expect your time with them to be a chaotic mess. Thankfully, we do not serve a God of chaotic messes. He’s ready. He has His notes. He has His Power Points. He even has the tests all written out, ready for you to take. This may sound intimidating, but, most of the time, when God teaches us a lesson, we don’t know it until we’re already through the test. (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:16)
3) God is Pursuing Us
For Released Time, Mrs. Virgili and I go to the schools, transport the children from there to a nearby off-campus location, and have the lesson. We pursue the children on purpose. We don’t hang around and wait for them to show up. If we did that, nothing would get done. God purposely took us out of our hell-bent sinful state and has transferred us to His glorious Kingdom where we can learn from the Master (Colossians 1:13). God is not passive in His love for us, and He wants to develop a sinner/Savior, bridegroom/Bride, student/Teacher relationship with us, because He wants to draw us closer to Him. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8)
4) God has Instructions
“When you teach children, you need to give them something to know,” Mrs. Virgili has told me, writing this down on the teaching material I was about to use to introduce her class one day. “And you need to give them something to feel, and then something to do.” Like every good teacher would have in every good lesson, God has an application for the thoughts and emotions He has given us. His Word is full of commands and His Spirit is full of convictions that we need to follow through with. (John 14:15-16)
5) God Needs You…to Pay Attention.
One thing that bugs me the most is when the children I’m trying to teach are not paying any attention to me or the words I am saying. Frankly, I didn’t prepare a lesson, go to their school, and transport them to Released Time so that they could talk to their friend beside them while I’m teaching. I can teach all day or until I’m blue in the face, but if my students don’t pay attention to me, it will all be worthless.
This is the time when I need to step back and examine myself and how I have paid attention to God as His student. Am I listening as close as I should be? Am I taking His preparations and pursuits for granted by not following through with His applications? In other words, have I been distracted from God’s lesson because I’ve been talking to my friend beside me, staring out the window watching the birds fly, or craving the Reese’s peanut butter egg on the table over there?
Can’t you relate? Aren’t there times when you just stop paying attention to anything God has to say? Are you doing that right now?
God wants our attention. He has something incredible to teach us, and we just need to turn our eyes upon Him and listen. (Psalm 119:36-37)