To grow properly, climbing roses, grapevines, and pole beans all need some kind of support structure. Shorter plants get support from digging their roots deep in the soil, and ground cover plants are supported by the earth itself as they creep across the soil or over rocks.
Sunday school teachers are a lot like those plants. Without support they’ll dry up, wither away, and disappear. Sounds pretty harsh, right? But that’s the way it is with ministry. Jesus said, “I am the vine, and you are the branches.” In other words, if we want to bear fruit, we need divine support—and a human support system as well.
- We need to be connected to God, the source of all life and strength. Without God, we cannot bear fruit. Nothing can replace a living, growing relationship with God. Though you’ll experience times of dryness and feelings of discouragement on your faith journey, know that God will never disconnect you from his love and support. If you’re in a dormant stage right now, cling to God and you will, in time, discover new sap running through you.
- We need to be connected to a spiritual community. The church as the body of Christ has a role to play in supporting our ministry. Each of us is just one small part of the greater body; we need others to complement our gifts and keep us accountable. Your congregation should be supporting you with soul-refreshing worship and sacraments, prayer, financial and physical resources, mentoring and training, and great love and gratitude for you and your contributions. If that’s not happening, ask for it! You need this kind of support.
- We need to be connected to the other members of our team. Together we are stronger than the sum of our fellow teachers. Together we have a common goal that is easier to reach when we work with each other’s gifts and talents. Being together is much more fun than trying to carry the load alone. So attend those teachers’ meetings. You’ll refresh and inspire each other and learn new things that will help you in your teaching. Share your classroom problems and seek advice. Encourage others by affirming their gifts—the cheerful attitude that encourages you, the leadership that supports you, the musical talents that uplift you. Share the ideas, insights, and strategies that have worked for you. Pray and plan together for the best program possible for the children of your church.
- Attend workshops, seminars/webinars, and conferences; read books, magazines, websites, and newsletters—these are all tools for self-help and improvement. If you are eager to see learning, growing children in your classes, then be a model for them: use every opportunity to learn and grow yourself.
- Sometimes we need the kind of support and refreshment that comes through just having fun. Although it seems counterproductive to take time off, fun and games and recreation are vital sources of support. They offer balance to keep you on an even keel. According to research, laughter lowers stress hormones, boosts immune response, increases creativity, oxygenates the blood, fosters positive energy and connections, and more. Recreational activities such as hobbies, sports, travel, and fun with friends are all life-enriching experiences that take our minds off everyday problems and invite us to re-create ourselves.
How’s your support system working? Have you established a personal network of individuals and groups who will be there when you need them? Are you grafted securely into the vine that is Jesus? When your support system includes divine and human connections, you’ll continue to grow and flourish!