I learned a valuable lesson. In high school I attempted to learn French. I say attempted because languages don’t come easy to me and even with a couple of years of French under my belt it still never really sunk in.
Years later I was surprised to discover that more of the French had taken hold than I had previously thought. It made it nearly impossible to teach my three children Spanish (yes, even homeschoolers must learn a foreign language). I gave it my best! I had great materials -they even included recordings. Try as I might, all I ended up doing was amusing my children with my poor pronunciation. Very little learning took place. Eventually I gave up and signed my kids up for Spanish classes with someone who knew what they were doing.
The Valuable Lesson:
The lesson learned – you can’t teach what you don’t know. That seems obvious, but to really teach something well you must own the information for yourself before you can pass it on to others. Not just a cursory “know.” A deep know.
The same thing is true when it comes to teaching children spiritual matters. It’s easy to think that children young and incapable of understanding spiritual things at a deep level. To fool yourself into thinking that you can get by with minimal prep, however, the quick glance you give the lesson before trying to teach it dramatically limits your effectiveness. Even the familiar Bible stories are presented from a more inspired place when you’ve spent time pondering the passage and allowing God to reveal new and deeper truths to you.
God’s Word is full of amazing stories and these stories are not just for children. They have powerful lessons to teach you as well. If you are willing invest the time, the best thing you can get out of being a teacher is what you take away from the lessons you’re teaching yourself! When you teach from that place, your lessons have a greater chance of making a difference in the lives of the children you have a chance to influence.
So as you prepare for you next lesson, I encourage you to dig a little deeper into the Word. Begin reading and meditating on the passage the week before you teach. Let the truths become new and fresh as you consider the ways it applies to your life right now. Then you can teach from a place of not just knowing, but from a place of having digested the passage in a deeper way so that it will enhance the quality of your teaching.
That doesn’t mean that you have to become an educated theologian. Thank heavens that’s not necessary! Teaching from a place where God has connected with your heart on a scripture passage and where the Holy Spirit has been working – that’s powerful!
How can you carve out time to connect with the Bible lessons you teach in a deeper way?