HELP, I’M FALLING APART
BY DAVID NORRIS
I heard someone arguing in the room next to us. The boy next to me heard the argument too, and his face became tense. In fact, the whole room full of young people which had been alive with conversation became
suddenly still. We teenagers had been expecting the devotion to begin, but now everything changed. A door slammed! More yelling! Finally everything was silent. One of the men who had been helping with the
youth class rose to his feet. “If this is supposed to be the love of God,” he complained loudly, “then we are in sad shape! I’m sorry, but I quit! I give up! I’m quitting the church!” And then he walked out the door and was gone.
You could hear a pin drop for at least thirty second, and although it was several years ago, I will never forget the impression that incident made on me as a teenager. The youth leader began talking to us and
asked us what we thought about what happened. In the twenty minutes or so of very serious discussion we decided our actions were very important and could affect someone else’s situation. Only then did we find out we were victims of a clever skit. Was I relieved! Blood returned to my whitened face and my heart began to beat normally again. But what if my youth leader or Sunday school teacher would fail God? It made me think then and it makes me think now.
Sunday school teachers face a class full of “sponges” every week. They soak up not only what the teacher says but also the values and attitudes of that Sunday school teacher
Another thing, it is absolutely impossible to “fake it” as a Sunday school teacher. Children and young people can tell when you are “on” and when you are “off.” They can feel if you are having a good day or
bad day. They may not verbalize it, but they “sponge” up whether or not you are ringing true to them. Teaching God’s Word is unique. There is no other teaching like it. It is not like teaching history or geography. It cannot be compared to teaching how to unclog a clogged sink or change the oil in the car. Why? Because the Bible is about love, God’s love. It is absolutely impossible to teach about love and
have it mean anything at all unless students can “feel” that love in the teacher.
Now that is a tall order for any teacher? Sometimes teachers “feel” a lot of love for their class and sometimes the class tries their patience. Johnny is easy to love, but Jimmy needs to be thrown out on
his ear. Sue is great, but Mary talks to her neighbor almost the whole class time. You wonder, does God really love all of them?
Some years ago when I was teaching a junior high boys class, I started having a real problem. None of the boys were angelic, but one of them specialized in disrupting. Randy had a knack for speaking out, creating
disturbances, general upheaval, and small riots. Week after week I put up with his tyranny and finally I had had enough. I went to someone in the church with authority and said, “I want that kid out of my class!”
She said nothing for a moment, but I knew she would agree. After all, she had taught scores and scores of Sunday school children and surely she would know a hopeless case when she saw one.
“David,” she said. “God has placed Randy to be in your class. Randy is God’s special challenge to you.”
I left her office feeling very small. First, I realized that not only can God teach children through us but He can also teach us through children. I renewed my efforts to challenge this boy and create a team spirit within the class. I began praying for each boy and started a class prayer list for them to do the same. As I was praying God seemed to give me inspiration and ideas on how to challenge them. Gradually, with the help of other teachers, skits, contests, and programs, a unity began to emerge in the class. Revival touched us, and these boys began to get serious about God. Months later, I stood next to the baptismal tank and saw Randy shed tears of joy as he was baptized in Jesus’ name. What was the key? At least one of the keys was for me to get my heart as a teacher. I needed to grow so that I could see God’s potential in these boys. Perhaps this is a key for spiritual growth in any classroom. Lord, help me give more love so that I can do a better job for You!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR, FALL 2001, PAGES 10, 11. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.