I never left his class unchanged. I was an undergraduate student in Agricultural Education and Shubel Owen was my education professor. What he lacked in delivery and technique, he more than made up for with passion and enthusiasm. One day he made a statement that changed my perspective in teaching. He said, “To teach is to change lives, if there is no change, you have not taught.”
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:23-25
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 The Word of God in the hands of a committed Christ follower poured into the lives of others is a powerful tool of change. Teachers are called by God to be change agents for His people.
Do we expect change in our Sunday School ministry? Or do we look more like a turtle on a fence post, stuck! When we prepare to teach do we have a sense of expectancy of change?
Here are some thoughts to consider for this week as you prepare for this upcoming Sunday:
- How clear is the mirror of God’s Word that you are holding up in your class? Make sure it is crystal clear so it provides a true reflection and that you do not insert your picture into the mirror frame.
- Are you willing to change? What do you need to change so that your walk with the Lord is real and fresh? Nothing changes our passion and perspective like true life change.
- Celebrate change. Begin each session with a time of celebration acknowledging how God changes lives. Ask your class, what wins can we celebrate together? Help them to understand that God is in the changing business and His shop is still open!
- Drill down. Seek to drill down into the lives of people and help them to apply the truths of God to practical, everyday situations and needs. Pray for a deeper level of intimacy and provide a safe place for others to openly share what God is showing them in the “mirror” of their lives.
- Avoid judgment. Let the mirror speak and let the scalpel of God’s Word in the hands of the Holy Spirit do the work of a surgeon. Make yourself available for assistance and clean up!
- Less is more. Try covering less ground and spend more time on practical application and how to encourage accountability. Turn off the fire hydrant and turn on the water fountain so everyone can get their fill. Let them drink slowly.
- Dream. What would my class look like if God showed up? Would I be in the way if He showed up? Am I cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit or am I crowding Him out? Can we hear the still quiet voice of God if he speaks to us in our class?
- What is the take home? When you shop online you have options. The wish list allows you to come back at any time and desire them without cost. The cart means you are moving towards ownership but you still have the option of removing it at no cost or commitment. The checkout requires you provide payment for the item and pay the price of purchase. Once you click the mouse on the submit button, (appropriately named!) it is yours. You just bought it. How many times do your students leave your class with items on their wish lists? How many leave with items in their cart? (some classes gauge spirituality by how many items are in their cart) Bottom line: how many hit the submit button and have paid the price to own the truth? No ownership, no change!
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.2 Timothy 2:15. God has called us to help people to apply and practice the truth of God not to help them collect and categorize them like a librarian. Truth on the shelf gathers dust. Change comes when we expect people to “go to work’ with the truth God gives.
Professor Owen was a wise man. To teach is to change lives. Expect change.