Monday, January 15, 2007

The Tired Teacher

“What?” you might react. “Tired Teacher? Aren’t you a Sunday School teacher doing the Lord’s work? Teaching children about Jesus should be exhilarating, not exhausting.”

Yes, I believed that discrepancy for years. If I’m doing God’s work, then He should give me superhuman strength and I should be so thrilled with the honor of serving Him, that the work of teaching shouldn’t phase me. Then why am I so wiped out after teaching two hours? Why would my minister/husband rather sleep than eat right after morning worship services (so much for my stereotypical, traditional Sunday dinner)?

Don’t get me wrong. I love teaching. I love seeing how my plans come to fruition. I am thrilled when a student nails the answer to a question, saying it in even a better way than I could. Best of all, I love seeing children respond positively to the gospel message. But after that exhilarating adrenaline rush, I feel tired. When I was younger, I wondered why the “high” didn’t last. Actually, it was just my body saying, “Hey, you’ve worked. You need a rest!” But should doing God’s work make us tired?

When I read in one of the classic Bible stories we teach children that Jesus got tired, even taking a nap in a boat once, I realized it’s okay for me to feel tired too (Matthew 8:23-27). In fact, after the disciples short term mission project, Jesus encouraged them to rest (Mark 6:31).

When you labor for the Lord, you are laboring. That means work and sometimes, it’s hard work. Yes God gives me the strength, but He gives me the strength during the time I’m doing His work. I don’t need His strength any longer after the task is done. Also, the work we do is in a war zone. We are in a rescue operation to save lives for eternity. We can count on the fact that there will be forces at work to distract, oppose and hassle us to keep us from accomplish our work. Work is extra hard when you encounter the push of resistance. Ask any cyclist which is more tiring – to cycle uphill or downhill?

So, how do we cope with the fatigue that comes after teaching?

1. View your fatigue as a tithe of your energy to the Lord. We are to love God with all our strength. Well, you did!

2. Find ways to refresh and rejuvenate yourself. I’ve learned not to fix fancy Sunday dinners, especially on Sundays that I’m teaching twice. I usually cook a large meal on Friday night and save the leftovers for Sunday lunch. Sundays naps are mandatory in our household. We especially need it if we have evening church services as well.

3. Know and accept your limitations. Evaluate your other activities. What other volunteer activities do you do Sunday morning? Each of these responsibilities will sap the store of energy that could be focused into your teaching. Look carefully at what you do Sunday mornings and have the courage to make some hard choices. I know this will be difficult. I chose to drop out of our church choir several months ago and there are some people who still do not understand my decision. Your job is to please the Lord, not others. You need to do what is best for His work and for you.

4. Spend some moments debriefing and evaluating your teaching session. How did you see God at work in your session? What activities worked with the kids? What didn’t work? Who were you able to connect with in a special way? Who can you show more love and kindness to the next week? How could you be better prepared? Who wasn’t there that might need some encouragement this week.

5. Keep in mind the words of 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore my beloved brethren, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (italics mine)”

So, go take that nap, Tired Teacher. Put your feet up. You’ve earned it!


LeAnne Benfield Martin said...


Encouraging and full of good, practical info!


Nancy said...

Great post Karen. I read somewhere "when you are weary, it means you have been making a difference." That helps me.

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