Before you make a decisions, seek God first. Before you respond to criticism, listen to God in His Word. Even when you are preparing to teach, train yourself to H.E.A.R. from Him first.
H.E.A.R. is an anagram for Highlight, Explain, Apply, and Respond. For an excellent article with additional explanation, check out What Is a H.E.A.R. Journal?. These are four essential steps for the teacher to open yourself to God before you prepare a lesson for others.
While I encourage you to mentally run through these four steps every time you open your Bible, one of the best ways for them to become natural is to journal. So take out paper or open an electronic document. Write down the date and the scripture passage you are reading. Then read the passage. In fact, you may find great benefit in reading it more than once. (Keep in mind that my instructions below differ from the article above.)
- Highlight. What truth God did communicate to the original hearers? Keep in mind for best understanding, it helps to review background information about the book, author, and context. After considering the original context, what did you hear God say? What verse(s) stands out?
- Explain. What does the passage mean? Why did the verse(s) stand out? What message is God communicating to you? What is His point? How can this verse challenge or help you? Why do you need to hear this truth?
- Apply. How does this passage apply to life today? What is your response to encountering God in His Word? Having listened to God in Bible study, how does He expect you to change? How does God expect you to adjust your thinking, attitudes, or life? What will you do as a result?
- Respond. What will you say to God in response to what He has said to you? How will you respond to God about what He expects? Plus, what did you do as a result of this encounter? Did you obey? (The last two questions may have to be answered a few days later when you review this encounter or journal entry.)
Think through the four H.E.A.R. steps above. Do you believe they would help you better to understand and obey God. I want to encourage you to try it out for three weeks (long enough for it to become a natural habit).
After this has become a good habit for you, teach it to your class. Watch how it changes your lesson preparation and class members’ participation. Remember, we are teaching for life change. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!