When we think about the roles of a teacher in the Sunday School room shepherding may be the least one thought about. For many teachers their number one goal on Sunday morning is to finish the lesson they have prepare. Then when the week is over they start on the next lesson and essentially forget about those that are in the their class.
I really like what David and Ken have done in the book “3 Roles” because I believe every teacher needs to see themselves in all three roles. But I think I would be safe in saying that when it comes to shepherding your class this one is the least active or comfortable for you as a teacher. It all boils down to relationships! It’s not that you do not care about the members of your class but it is not a priority. Shepherding is something that has to be cultivated through you by the Holy Spirit. A shepherd should have:
- Love for the Sheep – again let me say, you love the class but there may be no effort put forth to demonstrate that love. Think of a shepherd out in the field watching their flocks. It was their job to have a watchful eye, to protect, to secure, to love them in such a way that nothing was going to happen to them if the shepherd could help it. That’s LOVE!
- Constant Vigilance – Because of that love you have for the sheep your attitude begins to change toward them. You are not so consumed with the lesson as much as you are about the person. You begin to show care and concern for their welfare and again try to protect them the best you can. Again using the shepherds in the field, they were always on guard for different types of enemies. Why, because they loved the sheep!
- Sense of Stewardship – When you begin to see your class in a different way you will have this sense of stewardship. Why, because you have been entrusted with them. So now it is your responsibility to take care of them. As Allan Taylor, minister of education for FBC Woodstock has said many times, “You have the privilege of handling the two most precious things to the heart of God. The Word of God and the PEOPLE of God!” They do not belong to us but God has given them to us to care for, to build us, to strengthen, and to love.
It’s not about how big your class can get or how good of a teacher you are. BTW – you should be the best teacher possible, but if you begin showing that shepherding side of yourself you will be amazed at how your class will begin to respond to you even if you do not hit a home run with the lesson.
Dwayne Lee is the Associate Group Leader of the Bible Teaching and Resource Group of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.