As I mentioned in the previous blog entry, one of my friends, Richard Dodge, wrote an article on LifeWay’s website called, The Equipped Sunday School Teacher. In the article, he offers a quick assessment of several leadership skill areas. One of them is the teacher as guide.
In the article, Richard says, “Effective teaching means that we help adults discover what the Bible says. Granted, many times we must correct inaccurate interpretations or prior information. No teacher has all the answers; each of us has been asked a question at some time that we cannot answer. Guiding the learning process often helps people discover answers before they ask the questions.”
An ideal guide is one who has been to a place where we are going on a journey. He or she is able to point out significant points of interest and help us to have a richer experience than we might have had by ourselves. In fact, the ideal guide is one who is able to get as much out of the way as possible in order to allow us to experience fully the points of interest rather than him or her. In the case of a Sunday School/Bible study teacher, he or she guides learners to examine the truths of God’s Word so that they can experience God himself rather than the teacher-guide.
A true guide works to understand fully the landscape prior to guiding people through it. But a good guide is also a perpetual learner who admits he/she does not know everything. Rather he/she seeks to listen, respond, and learn new things to share with future pilgrim-learners. Even in familiar landscape, the guide does not get bored or complacent because of his/her appreciation of the setting and its history. In the case of the teacher-guide, his/her appreciation of the Bible is magnified because of personal, growing knowledge of the author-creator.
A guide has another significant perspective as a leadership skill which can be learned: this role/skill reminds us that we are to lead the sheep somewhere. The point of our teaching is not a perpetual journey, like wandering in the wilderness. Rather, our goal is to lead the sheep to God, not just on a journey. So, when you teach, what are you trying to accomplish? Let me ask a very personal question. When you have finished teaching, are the sheep more in love with God or the teacher-guide? It is not about you and me; it’s all about Him! Think about where you are leading every time you teach. Let me know how these thoughts impact your next lesson!