You Can Do This!

raceSelf-limitations are just that; limitations we place on ourselves. The idea of being excellent in our service, revolutionary in our approach and far-reaching in our aims, can sometimes seem unattainable. Many times we relegate ourselves to staying within our zones of comfort because of quiet fears that we do not have what it takes to do more.

As teachers and leaders, the evidence is conclusive that to be most effective we must be able to grab and hold the attention of others and have a vision of taking them to places they have never been before. Continue reading

Memories and Regrets

memoriesThere are 2 things pretty certain in this life:
1) You’re going to be remembered for something
2) You’ll probably have some regrets

All of us are making silent, lasting impressions upon the many people we interact with from day to day. When people reflect back upon us will they do it with a sense of gratitude for knowing us or a sense of relief that we are not in their lives?

If the members in our classes had a discussion about us 5 or 10 years from now, what would they say? Would they have fond memories from being in our class? Will they rehearse positive, helpful lessons they heard from us. Will they recall a godly example and a character worth emulating? Only we can determine that. Continue reading

Time for Heavy Lifting

heavy-liftingAs I stood in that massive throng of people I couldn’t help but sense the feeling of hope pervading the atmosphere. People from all walks of life and from all over the world had come to share in this unique experience of being eyewitnesses to the swearing in of our nation’s 44th president.

Displaying confidence and thoughtfulness, our newly elected President stated his case for our country’s future and why change was needed. Tempering optimism with realism we heard that the road ahead would be difficult but doable. Our problems are humongous but fixable. Our status in the world is tarnished but repairable. It’s time for heavy lifting.

This frank assessment of the status of our country was refreshing in its honesty and surely a catalyst to engage bright minds in finding solutions to perplexing issues. There’s a relevant, spiritual lesson in that for us. Continue reading

Contact Is Not Enough

contactHow are we going to do it? Will it be by the smoothness of our words or the preciseness of our grammar? Will it by the strength of our intellectual powers or the weight of our empirical evidence? Perhaps the visual image of our spiritual maturity and the distinctness of our apparel? How will we reach the people that we minister to from week to week? Contact is not enough.

To truly reach the hearts of those we minister to with life changing truths will demand a life changing experience for each one of us. We need to start with a new touch of faith.

We’re all familiar with the bible story of the woman with the serious illness that had plagued her for many years. Though she had consulted the best help of her day, her case was still hopeless; until she came into contact with Jesus.
Luke 8: 43-48 Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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!

Year End Reflections: Have you given your best?

• The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. William Arthur Ward

• When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me” Erma Bombeck

• Consecrate yourself and your all to the service of Him who hath loved you, and hath given Himself for you. Jesus says, “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples.” This means in the Sabbath school work as much as in the work of the minister. Now is the golden opportunity to sow precious seed that will spring up and bear fruit unto eternal life. EGW Counsels on Sabbath School Work 181

• Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might. Ecclesiastes 9:10

• I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble. Helen Keller

• True success in any line of work is not the result of chance or accident or destiny. Continue reading

Thank You

Sometimes we take for granted those people in our midst who are pivotal to the success of our mission but who are not in the bright lights of the stage. Today to you I want to say thank you.

To all of the mothers of our church that labor week to week in teaching our infants songs and lessons about Jesus, I say thank you. For the unpaid hours in decorating and enhancing the environment of your classes, I say thank you. For the warm smiles given to the parents as they bring their precious jewels to class on Sabbath morning, I say thank you.

To all of the men and women who prepare lesson plans and activities for our kindergarten, juniors and earlieteens from week to week, I say thank you. For patiently teaching hyper and energetic boys and girls the principles of eternal life, I say thank you.

To those who engage our teenage members every week, trying to understand and relate and teach them the ways of God, I say thank you. For staying positive when it appears that you are not getting through to some, I say thank you. For remembering how you were when you were teenagers and showing extra compassion, I say thank you.

To the teachers of our adult classes who put hours of preparation time into their weekly lessons I say thank you. To the teachers who invest their time and resources into improving their gifts, I say thank you. For the calls made to missing members and warmness extended to visiting guests, I say thank you.

To the superintendents who diligently work to provide interesting, inviting, inspiring programs from week to week, I say thank you. For being reliable and presenting a smiling face on Sabbath morning, I say thank you.

To the Sabbath school secretaries, choristers, musicians and all other assistants who tirelessly perform their duties from week to week, I say thank you. For working as a team and assisting the overall Sabbath school program of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I say thank you. Most importantly though, God thanks you.

The time will come when the earth shall reel to and fro, and shall be removed like a cottage. But the thoughts, the purposes, the acts of God’s workers, although now unseen, will appear at the great day of final retribution and reward. Things now forgotten will then appear as witnesses, either to approve or to condemn.
Love, courtesy, self-sacrifice,–these are never lost. When God’s chosen ones are changed from mortality to immortality, their words and deeds of goodness will be made manifest, and will be preserved through the eternal ages. No act of unselfish service, however small or simple, is ever lost. Through the merits of Christ’s imputed righteousness, the fragrance of such words and deeds is forever preserved.
Sons and Daughters of God, pg 270

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15.58 NIV

Greatness on Display

We have witnessed in our generation, an event un-thought-of just a few years ago.

We have seen a man, with careful deliberation, wise planning and infectious optimism rise to a level of greatness that has no precedent in our country. Admirers and critics alike all acknowledge the historical triumph of our president-elect. From around the world millions have found a new source of hope that is sorely needed during these difficult times.

The core qualities of commitment, dedication, sacrifice and humility that we have seen tested time and time again throughout this election cycle have testified that the goodness in us is what people are hungering for. The longing for hope, sympathy and understanding is not confined to a particular race, age or creed. Our needs are more similar than the differences that divide us. Continue reading

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: Continue reading