THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF A SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER
BY GARY D. ERICKSON
1. Thou shalt acknowledge and faithfully perform your calling to the teaching ministry. Every believer should diligently seek to find their in the kingdom of God. We are not saved just so we can get to heaven
but also to become productive workers in the church. The Sunday school teacher should recognize his or her role as a divine calling. The teaching ministry is a vital gift to the church. Paul gives it special emphasis as one of the five main ministries in Ephesians 4:11. In Matthew chapter twenty-five, Jesus tells the parable of the talents. The person who had only one talent went and hid it in the earth. Because of his apathy, Jesus called him “wicked” and “slothful,” and his talent was taken away and given to another. Peter wrote,
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” (11 Peter 1:10).
II. Thou shalt be a perpetual student of the Word of God, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15). An effective teacher must study and prepare. He must know more than the student, otherwise how
can he be a teacher? Having knowledge in many areas is a good thing, but knowing the Bible is the most important thing. Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are
they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Learning never stops. Our entire life is a learning, growing, and achieving journey. The psalmist said, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of
thy law. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:18; 103; 105).
III. Thou shalt be diligent in prayer, considering it the main line of relationship and power with God. Without prayer a teacher will loose his or her way. Vast knowledge, talented teaching abilities, and
charismatic charm is not enough to be an effective teacher. Teaching without a prayer life will cause our ministry to become nothing more than a trite performance of fleshly showmanship, or a futile exercise
in academics. Prayer is the source of spiritual power with God and Divine guidance. Prayer is not just a catharsis for pent emotions, for “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James
5:16). It is communion with God. Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” (Luke 18:1). “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Jesus was a man of prayer, leaving us a wonderful example (Matthew 1:35; Mark 6:46;-47; Luke 5:15-16; 6:12; 9:18; 22:41).
IV Thou shalt embrace a burden that will compel you to do your duty with zeal and enthusiasm. By “burden” we mean to have a deep concern, compelling passion, and excitement for the c challenge. A successful teacher must be spiritually motivated to be the very best he can be. A burden will cause a teacher to give priority to his ministry and push aside things of lesser importance. Jesus said, “But seek ye first the
kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). A teacher with a burden will prepare and teach with enthusiasm. The psalmist predicted that Jesus would be a man of zeal and it would lead to His death as our redeemer (Psalm 69:9). The disciples saw t his fulfilled: “And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of shine house hath eaten me up” (John 6:33).
V. Thou shalt set an example by the life you live, knowing that actions speak louder than words. Paul exhorts us with sobering words: “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:” (II
Corinthians 3:2). There is an old saying, “Words are pennies and deeds are dollars.” Our lifestyle outside the classroom is just as important as in the classroom. Students watch to see if the teacher’s words of
instruction are consistent with his behavior. Discrepancies will cause the learning curve to plummet. Jesus did not just say things, but He also did things: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also
suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” (I Peter 2:21). Students need not only instructors but also role models for real learning to take place.
VI. Thou shalt perfect your teaching skills, always striving for excellence. A good teacher will use a variety of teaching methods, seek to understand the learning styles of his students, and provide ministry relevant to the age and circumstances of the students. Teaching is a science and an art. The facts must be correct and the mechanics of teaching principles must be intact. Nevertheless, for the lesson to be energized there must be that element of creativity. Studying the methods of the Master Teacher is a wonderful way to learn
better teaching skills. Jesus used storytelling, objects, questions, actions, analogies, and lecturing to reach His students.
VII. Thou shalt be submitted to your leaders, seeking to promote wholeness and unity of the church. There are two prevailing attitudes in the world: godly submission and rebellion. Every Christian must be
submitted to authority. Paul makes this principle clear: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Romans 13:1-2). It is important that the teacher submit to the pastor and the church leaders.
Rebellion against authority will destroy effectiveness as a teacher.
VIII. Thou shalt have vision and goals for the future and be willing to make sacrifices to see them reached. A teacher must have vision, not only for planning activities for the class but also for the student’s progress under his care. The teacher is in the ministry of changing I lives for a better future. The forward look must motivate us rather than resting on the laurels of the past. Paul had vision for the future: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3: 13-14).
IX. Thou shalt always be prepared to minister to the student, being instant in season and out. The teacher must be willing to be flexible. Paul exhorted those who minister: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (11 Timothy 4:2). Seizing the moment can bring great dividends for the teacher. The Holy Spirit can quicken the teacher to do and say impromptu things. When a student asks a question, he has opened the door to optimum learning. Responding at the right time with the right words can cause accelerated learning. Paul wrote, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).
X. Thou shalt love the unlovable and touch the untouchable with a heart and hands of anointed ministry. A deep love for people is essential to be an effective teacher. The teacher is in the people business. Jesus came seeking people all kinds of people. Peter learned God’s open-door philosophy when he preached to the Gentiles at Caesarea: “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” (Acts 10:34). Prejudice and bigotry have no place in the kingdom of God. The Lord has opened the door of His kingdom to everyone: “Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests” (Matthew 22:9-10). “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
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