Yesterday’s lesson was a failure. I filled in for our teacher while he and his wife took some much needed time away. I read the scripture and prepared through the week multiple times. But I failed to finish my preparation.
It was not until I was near the end of the lesson that I recognized the failure. Those in the class (on Zoom) may not have even noticed, but I did. We had covered the scripture, put it into historical context, and applied it to life today. But what was missing?
I failed to extend the invitation to respond to the truth of God’s Word. You see, I needed to ask the attenders what God wanted them to do as a result of the lesson. I needed to help them to realize that the lesson had personal application.
Failure Does Not Have to Be Permanent
Our job as teachers is to disciple those in our care. We help them become more like Jesus through our example and our teaching. But caring for them also means that we know them individually and want each of them to take personal steps forward each time we gather.
Thus, preparation necessarily involves spending time with God in His Word and considering the needs of the sheep and how this lesson can help them respond to God. Fortunately, my failure does not have to be permanent. I can adjust my preparation and presentation next time. I can learn from my mistake.
And there is still time this week. I can send out an email to participants apologizing and asking them to consider the response God desires as a result of encountering Him in His Word. If our group were in a social media group, I could post it there. With phone numbers, I could text them. You see, failure does not have to be permanent. If I send out my email to the class as a whole (including absentees), the lesson can have the added benefit of potential impact on absentees as well.
What do you do when you experience failure? Sorrow, lament, and even repentance can be appropriate. But failure does not have to be permanent. So learn from failure. Apologize where beneficial. Seek to fix the failure where possible. Adjust plans next time to avoid repeating that failure.
When you prepare and teach, always plan to disciple. Always plan to lead participants toward a personal application of the truth of the lesson. And when you fail to do so, fix it or ensure you don’t keep repeating that failure. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!