More than anything else in my teaching Inside the Classroom, I want to be an effective teacher. I want to see results. I want to see the "Ahha" look on my student's faces. I want to hear exclamations of delight over discoveries. Most of all, I want to see changed lives, lives that stay faithful to Jesus for a lifetime propelling them straight into the eternal bliss of Heaven.
An overabundance of resource exist to help children's ministry workers become effective teachers. We have more and better resources available to us now than in any other period of history. There's published curriculum with more ideas than you can ever use in a single session. There's whiz bang state-of-the-art multi-media presentations that will have your kids' eyes glued to the front of the stage. All kinds of tips and creative ideas are tucked into the recesses of the Internet. Then there are a growing number of blogs that will give you all kinds of advice on how you can be more effective in your teaching.
Yet my answer on how to become an effective teacher starts from one simple verse in the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:17 says, "so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Oh yeah! I want to be thoroughly equipped! I want to be prepared for everything that gets thrown my way. I want my work to be good work.
The verse before, a familiar one to Bible students, tells us how: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). In the previous verses, Paul tells Timothy to continue in what he has learned, namely growing in his knowledge of the Scriptures "which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (v.15)."
The first step, a giant step at that, in becoming an effective teacher is to become thoroughly familiar with God's word, the Bible. It is our Source-book. It has the content we need to teach. We cannot be satisfied with curriculum guides alone, for they are just that - guides. God's word has four purposes: 1)teaching, or showing us the way to go, 2) rebuking, explaining how we got off track (the biblical term is 'sin.') 3) correcting, or showing us how to get back on track, and 4) training in righteousness, or telling us how to stay in track.
According to Paul, we cannot depend solely on what we learned about the Bible as children. We can't even rest on our laurels if we've been to Bible college. The study of God's Word is a continuing process, a lifelong pursuit, a daily activity. We will be effective teachers if we commit ourselves to faithful, consistent study of the Word of God.
I love those "God moments" when a child asks a question that has nothing to do with the lesson in my curriculum guide, but it speaks directly to something I've read in my personal study in the past week. I wouldn't have been ready to give a good answer if I hadn't equipped myself! Then there are the times that my lesson will dovetail my personal devotion time or the passage for my ladies' bible study will fit with what I teach the children. Two weeks ago, my teaching partner shared a verse she had been mulling over to encourage me in my teaching. She and I sat together in church that morning and guess what verse the minister referred to? We looked at each other, mouths open, eyes glowing as we reveled in the God-moment. Those moments can only happen, however, when we get into the Word for ourselves.
As a teacher:
How much time do you spend studying the actual passage on which your lesson is based?
Do you have a time of daily Bible reading?
How much do you interact with what you have read - do you incorporate your reading into your prayer time, memorize any verses or spend time mulling over and meditating what you have read, applying it to specific situations in your life?
If we don't study the Word of God, the Holy Spirit won't have a well-spring from which to draw. But if we do immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, letting it seep into our very being, it will flow out of us into our teaching. Then we will be thoroughly equipped for every good work inside and outside the classroom.