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An Enemy Called Boring

ScreamSometimes it makes you want to scream!  I know you’ve been there.  You’re in a meeting or presentation and it seems like time has decided to stand still.  Your personal mental challenge is to be creative in staying alert and giving the impression of interest in the uninteresting.(I’ve tried pinching myself)

The enemy called boredom does not discriminate.  It attacks men and women.  It attacks worthy causes and noble goals.  It attacks sincere plans and well minded intentions.  It attacks the novice as well as the veteran.  It’s most valued trusty is complacency and mental laziness.  It thrives on low expectations.

Does it have to be this way? 

It’s Showtime!

ShowtimeOk, it’s time. You have adequately prepared and done your homework. You have imagined this moment with a measure of anxiety and it’s finally arrived. It’s now or never. It’s time to swing for the fences. It’s Showtime!

What is Showtime? It’s the moment you leave any reservations about your abilities behind and you step out and perform in an extraordinary way. Your mindset is “I can do this!” and your attitude is one of success, not failure.

What is Showtime? It’s the moment that you embrace the truth that you must be, want to be, can be and will be extraordinary. You are committed to do what it takes to make the impact the opportunity deserves. That’s Showtime!

Showtime is not limited to when you are making public presentations. It applies to any area of life that can be enhanced with doing more than the average. It’s the time when you step out in faith expecting success in spite of fears that you are inadequate. You’re swinging for the fences expecting to hit a home run and a home run you shall hit.

Get Ready, They’re Coming

20091At this time of the year we find most people in a reflective mood. There’s something about the realization of another year passing that makes all of us take a closer look at our lives.

Many of those that go through this annual ritual will feel the need to grow spiritually in the coming year. Attending Sabbath School is a common resolution made this time of year. Some of the reasons for this resolution are:

1) To satisfy the need for spiritual growth through group bible study
2) To start or revive a positive family tradition
3) To connect more with the local church and its sense of family
4) To turn the page on a difficult year with the hope of personal revival

6 Reasons you should NOT be a Sabbath school teacher

stop1) You’re a natural talker and you just love to talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Effective teachers tend to be great listeners. Devising talking points and questions to allow your class members the opportunity to share in meaningful dialogue is critical. Reading facial expressions and listening carefully to what is not being said will help you target areas of discussion that are relevant and timely to your members needs and interests.

2) Your own life experiences always seem like ideal examples regardless of the topic of discussion.
Effective teachers have the ability to direct the focus away from themselves and onto whom it really belongs…Jesus Christ. The weekly lesson period should not be a platform for sharing the triumphs (or defeats) of the teacher. Remember, it’s not about you! Being able to craft a discussion that encourages members in this Christian race and uplifts Jesus Christ are the ultimate accomplishments of a great Sabbath school class.

3) You’re not really a stickler for time. A few minutes late is no big deal.
Effective teachers set a good example for promptness and consideration of the time of the class members. Teachers should arrive early for Sabbath school and greet as many class members before class as possible. Set a pattern and reputation for starting and ending on time. Teachers should be models of consistency.

4) You know weekly topics so well you don’t even need to study.
Effective teachers share fresh, divine insight that they receive from constant study, meditation and prayer. The bible is a living word and as such it contains new revelations and relevant inspiration to meet the needs of each member who attends. A helpful target for preparation time is one hour for each 10 minutes of class time. A 45 minute class should be prepared for by at least 4 1/2 hours of study.

5) You’re not really a people person, just a good teacher.
Effective teachers are people persons, even if it does not come naturally. There is a need in every class for the teacher to extend themselves by showing genuine interest in the lives of all class members. Sabbath school involvement should extend beyond the weekly Sabbath morning class period. Calling missing members and engaging new and visiting members should be a regular part of your Sabbath school class. You can and should be an ambassador-of-one sharing the love of Christ with all whom you interact with.

6) You’re only teaching because no one else wants to.
Effective teachers realize the calling on their lives and have a real desire to improve their abilities to their maximum potential. When teachers have the proper mindset, they approach this responsibility with the seriousness it deserves. Even if you’re not sure if this is your calling, the bible plainly says “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.” Ecclesiastes 9:10

Being an effective teacher might demand being a “new you”. This is an age of change and some changes must be radical and complete. “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins”. Luke 5.37, 38 NIV

There is a higher level for us all to reach and God has promised that “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”. Ephesians 3.20. Today I’m asking for you to be your best!

And the Question is…

questionsIf there is one skill an effective Sabbath school teacher must have, it is the ability to ask great questions. Nothing can make or break a lesson study more than the quality of the questions being asked by the leader.

Questions can be placed into 3 categories:

Great questions are usually inidicated by the amount of raised hands and the eagerness of the participants.
Ok questions are usually indicated by a lackluster response.
Poor questions result in the emergence of the sounds of crickets :)

Here’s some examples of different types of questions:

Make your sessions come alive with stories

There’s something about a good story that can make all the difference in a Sabbath school discussion. A good story can transport it’s hearers to another time and place and make the lessons come alive with relevance and freshness. Do you use stories in your sessions?

While the variety of stories is limitless, I have found that nothing is more impactful than reciting the stories of events found in the bible. Bringing to life the words of the bible with energy and enthusiasm will be very effective in making its principles relevant to modern day hearers.

Jesus, our best example, was a master storyteller. There are 57 different parables recorded in the New Testament that Jesus gave. They teach a wide range of lessons including charity, love, justice, vindication, mercy, humility, service and other vital points of spiritual life.

The hearers of His parables were spellbound and many times not even aware that they were the subject of the parable being given. I’m certain that His authenticity, choice of words, and demeanor all contributed to the impact of each story. Once heard, the Holy Spirit would enable the hearers to identify with the story and allow the seed of truth to take root and grow.

What makes a teacher a good storyteller?

HIJACKED !

Sabbath Morning 9:30
Flight plan…check.
Instruments working…check.
Fuel…check.
Passengers seated…check.
Ready for takeoff…check.
And you’re off and on your way to another exciting Sabbath school discussion!

Everything is moving along fine and in the middle of your session someone who has a pet issue or grievance attempts to hijack the class and take over the direction of the lesson. It may be done in a subtle manner by someone asking a controversial question or making a controversial statement.

How you deal with this delicate situation can determine the future effectiveness of your class.

Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

Every week, in Sabbath school classes across the world, someone will be talking. It’s estimated that the normal pace for English speaking averages between 120 to 160 words per minute. That translates to 5400 – 7200 words for the typical 45 minute Sabbath school class.

How many of those words are being spoken by you the teacher? If your answer is that you are speaking the majority of those 5400 – 7200 words, you are more than likely missing the mark as an effective Sabbath school teacher.

How do you spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S?

Everyone wants to succeed. Some do…some don’t. Teachers may define success by the numbers of attendees, or by getting through the entire lesson, or by avoiding any glaring blunders. The definitions of success vary from teacher to teacher.

All of us spend some time in reflecting on how well we did or didn’t do. The unique thing about success is that it cannot always be judged by the immediate result. The path to success must travel on the road named “Process”.

Here’s a process of success that should be common to all Sabbath school teachers.

When Simplicity is Eloquence

“Never man spake like this Man” John 7:46

The greatest Teacher the world has ever known, was the most definite, simple, and practical in His instruction. GW 50

There is no higher example for a teacher to follow than the example given by the greatest teacher of all time, Jesus Christ. His method of communication can never be improved on and has lasted undiminished through the ages.
“The common people heard Him gladly.”
Mark 12:37

While we are many times mesmerized by the eloquence of the worlds great orators, our mission as teachers is to communicate eternal truths in a manner that is best suited for its reception; SIMPLICITY.