I wanted to quit teaching Sunday school at the beginning of this year.
Too busy. Too tired. Too long (I've been a teacher for close to 20 years).
And to be honest, I'd love to have an early lunch and longer fellowship with the adults on Sunday.
But God wouldn't let me. So I stayed.
Today I feel I've seen a tiny breakthrough.
The class opened up, and everyone shared about her struggles - with school work, fear of failure, loneliness issues, and parents' high expectations.
One of them thanked me for being her teacher.
One gal, who never made eye contact with me, told me she couldn't love herself.
Six months ago, I'd never imagine this could happen.
We're, after all, talking about bored, blase, and over-stuffed second, third generation believers.
So what helped?
Not better teaching skill, visual aids, program, or syllabus. Although these can help.
It's the basic things.
Like praying for the girls faithfully.
I read somewhere that if we prayed for someone for 10 mins, or even 5 mins, a day, something will change. Something's bound to change.
Loving them genuinely.
Remember birthdays; send a text message to say, "I'm praying for your test"; say, "I like your outfit."
Kids today are measured, accessed, criticised and judged constantly.
They thirst for acknowledgment, praise, and sincere compliments.
Being audience-focused, rather than syllabus-focused.
I believe in syllabus (I'm working in a seminary); but syllabus can't be a one-size-fits-all.
We must tailor, apply, and make lessons relevant to our listeners' needs. Real needs like how to face my parents when I didn't do well, how to say "No" to sexual temptations, how to love myself when I'm not tall, smart, or skinny enough.
We must teach looking at their faces, not our class notes.
We must touch hearts, not cover lessons.
Being vulnerable, honest and open about our own weaknesses and struggles.
One girl told me that when I shared with the class some time ago of my fears to go to Mongolia but went anyway by faith, she was encouraged. And she found the courage to trust God in overcoming her fear of going to a new school.
I read Howard Hendricks' Teaching To Change Lives 20 years ago.
His encouragement to teachers still rings loud and clear in my heart today.
In his opening chapter, the former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary talks about his own Sunday school teacher. This woman's ministry resulted in 84 young men going into full-time ministry.
Here's what he says:
"If you ask me the secret to this woman's impact, I'd give you a totally different answer today from what I would have said twenty years back.
"Back then I'd have credited her methodology.
"Now I believe it was because of her passion to communicate.
"My heart's concern for you is that God will give you a passion like that . . and never let it die.
"And I hope you never get over the thrill that someone will actually listen to you and learn from you."
love the ocean - God made it for Himself
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- In the Old Testament in the Bible, there was a man named Jacob who "wrestled with God and man." He wouldn't let God go until God answered his prayers. God admired that and renamed him Israel, "the one who fought or wrestled and prevailed". He fought with man--his inner man--and conquered his own weaknesses. He's my hero. He is what I hope God and man see me to be.