In Part 1, I mentioned that in many churches, Sunday School utilizes and mobilizes the largest group of people of any program, organization, or strategy. There I called on us to imagine the potential if Sunday School was operating at 100% effectiveness. Imagine if the right people were in the right positions of responsibility. Imagine if each leader were giving his/her best effort.
What can we do to move from current reality closer to what we have imagined? I like what was written in a blog post entitled 12 Rules for ‘Bringing out the Best in People’. The author shares these twelve points from a book by Alan Loy McGinnis written in the last century. In Part 1, I shared the first four points. In Part 2, I will share the middle four points in all capitals followed by my commentary applying them to Sunday School:
- IF THEY ARE GOING ANYWHERE NEAR WHERE YOU WANT TO GO, CLIMB ON OTHER PEOPLE’S BANDWAGONS. Not all good ideas are going to come from you. Be ready to support others’ ideas. Cheer them on. Point to them. If the direction digresses significantly, though, stand your ground. Help your Sunday School leaders to do the same!
- EMPLOY MODELS TO ENCOURAGE SUCCESS. Be an example yourself. But point to other models and examples. Examine those pictures of leadership. Debrief them. Help your Sunday School teachers and workers to take bold steps toward accomplishing God’s will by holding up successful Sunday School models.
- RECOGNIZE AND APPLAUD ACHIEVEMENT. Catch Sunday School leaders doing something good. Pat them on the back. Affirm them face to face. Affirm them to others. Help others to notice what has been achieved. Write a note. Write about it in the newsletter. Put it on a church blog. It is a lot easier to affirm and keep a good worker, than it is to train a new one. Celebrate Sunday School progress. Set up an affirmation event or activity. When you recognize success, it helps others to remember what they should be striving to accomplish.
- EMPLOY A MIXTURE OF POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT. As I said previously, affirmation is important. As the blog post referenced above states, “it is a good thing to provide praise and positive reinforcement.” But at times we must also respond when Sunday School leader actions and behaviors did not meet expectations. We may need to confront unacceptable efforts. Pray. Affirm what you can affirm. Then positively confront the issue (not the person). Point out why the behavior is not acceptable and what an alternative action is. Do so in love because you want to “maximize their potential.”
In Part 3, we will look at McGinnis’s final four points: appeal ‘sparingly’ to the competitive, place a premium on collaboration, build into the group an allowance for storms, and take steps to keep your own motivation high. From these four points, which one could you utilize this week to bring out the best in one or more Sunday School leaders? God deserves our best. Expect a lot. Bring out their best. Be revolutionary!