What Does It Take?

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Think of a memorable teacher you’ve had, someone who made a positive impact on your life. Why is this teacher one you’ll never forget? Think of three of his or her most memorable characteristics...

If you’re like most people, you’ll think of things like these:

  • She really cared about me!
  • He had a great sense of humor.
  • He had a passion for the Bible—he really made it come alive.
  • She challenged me to become a better person.

What’s not on your list? If you’re like others, it’s probably things like:

  • He could recite Psalm 119 from beginning to end.
  • She kept great attendance records.
  • Her classroom was always neat and tidy—everything had its place!

It’s usually the character or personal qualities of a memorable teacher we recall, not his or her specific skills—or even the academic content that person taught. And that’s the way it should be, for character begins in the heart and spirit of lives transformed by God’s grace. And that’s exactly what your teaching is all about.

A wise person once said you only need three loves and two skills to be a good teacher.

  1. Love God.
  2. Love the ones you teach.
  3. Love what you teach: God’s Word.

and...

  1. The ability to communicate effectively.
  2. The ability to create a community in your classroom.

Notice that both the “loves” and the “skills” relate to connections. If you’re connected to God in your personal life and if you earnestly desire to connect with the children entrusted to you, you do have what it takes!

Nobody can teach you the three loves—they’re gifts of grace from God, gifts that will keep growing in you, thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit. (Check out chapters 32-34 for ideas on nurturing your own spiritual growth.)

Effective communication and community building skills are things you can learn, however. We hope you’re not thinking, “Yikes! I can’t do that.” Remember Paul’s advice to Timothy, a young and inexperienced teacher: “And the special gift of ministry you received . . . keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible” (2 Timothy 1:6, The Message).

If you believe that God is asking you to teach children, then you do have what it takes. God delights in watching us grow and learn and pass on the good news to others! And when you respond to that call, someday, somewhere, some grown-up children of God will remember and tell others about a memorable teacher they once had—you!

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I know that this article had a focus on Sunday School, however, as a school teacher, I was encouraged by the simple wisdom.

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