Monday 7 May 2012

Five marks of a good Sunday School teacher

Yesterday at the Chinese Church, we looked at the five qualities which make for a good Sunday School Teacher.

1. Tells the truth to his students

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully (literally, truth) to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body.
Ephesians 4:25

Holding back the truth is just as bad as telling lies. Every teacher wants to establish mutual respect and close rapport with his students. Paul says the basis of this relationship is truth-speaking. In part, it is the willingness to be vulnerable. To be honest and open with one another. More specifically, “the truth” that Paul is referring to is the gospel. The gospel isn’t simply course material that the Sunday School teacher needs to get through. Paul is saying that the gospel is almost something that you owe to your students. Don’t hold back the gospel. You owe it to them.

2. Holds his temper with his students

In your anger do not sin.
Ephesians 4:26

This verse could also be translated, “Be angry, but do not sin.” Your students may give you good cause to be angry. If you love your students, there are situations in which you ought to be angry, especially when they are hurting others or even themselves. But Paul says, “Be angry but do not sin.” And Paul says, “Be angry, but not for too long,” - “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry”. Unresolved anger is indicative of pride. It introduces fractures in the church. It gives opportunity to the enemy (4:27). The way to deal with our anger is not by storing it up but by surrendering it all to Jesus. Go to the cross with your anger. Leave it there.

3. Seeks to transform the worst of students

He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Ephesians 4:28

A good teacher doesn’t merely punish the bad apple and reward the good kid in his class. Paul points to the selfish thief and says to him, “I want you to be the most gracious of servants.” He who used to steal with his hands must now work with his hands. He who used to be selfish must now be eager to share "with those in need". A good teacher knows that there is no student too lost, too hopeless, too far from the transforming work of the gospel.

4. Always thinks on behalf of his students

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29

Students can tell when a teacher has their best interests at heart. Your listeners are more likely to pay attention to you when you are speaking to them and not at them. Get to know the students in your class, where they are at and where they are coming from. At the very least, know their names. Paul says it isn’t enough to watch your bad language, you need to watch your good words, too - that is, to measure them against what your listeners need to hear - speaking “only what is helpful (literally, good) for building others up”, “according to their needs”, “that it may benefit those who listen”. In other words, don’t be self-absorbed. Know your audience. Better yet, love them enough to let them know they are there.

5. Trusts in Jesus Christ

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2

Your students may roll their eyes at you. Their parents might think you’re missing the point. There will be times when you will feel embarrassed for saying so, when it may sound corny just saying so. But always remind your students that God loves them and that Jesus Christ died for them as their substitute on the cross. The bible is not a series of rules to follow in order to be lovable. The bible reminds us that we are loved. That God loves the unlovable. That Jesus came to save sinners.

These are the five marks of a good Sunday School teacher, of the faithful bible teacher. In truth, Paul is describing every single believer in Christ. All of us have the privilege of speaking the gospel and sharing the good news of the cross with one another. It takes boldness and brokenness, confidence and contriteness. It takes love that comes from knowing that we are loved, in Jesus Christ who “gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God”. May God enable each of us to continually walk in his love.

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