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

Who is in Control?

Shocking. Stunning. Devastating. Incredible. Unimaginable. Tragic

These strong adjectives are parts of our daily news headlines. Seemingly overnight we have entered a time that a few years ago, was not thought possible. The fallout from these current worldwide events boils down to individual calamities on a very personal level. The unspoken question of many is “who is in control?”

As our members come out to Sabbath school during these times, many of them have been personally and adversely affected by the drastic downturn in our economy. Job loss, pension loss concerns and foreclosures are issues that our members are dealing with right now. They are asking “who is in control?” Continue reading

5 Cardinal Sins

I got up early that morning, excited to know that I would soon get the opportunity to visit a new Sabbath school. I was out of town for the weekend and decided I would visit the main church of this anonymous city.

I arrived early before Sabbath school started and waited until a few more cars arrived before I entered the church. The church was attractive and I looked forward to a learning experience during Sabbath school.

Shortly after the appointed time for Sabbath school to begin, the superintendent arrived to start the program. He looked hurried and perhaps he had an emergency that prevented him from being there before the service start time.

After the superintendents’ remarks and song service ended I counted approximately 12 people there. The superintendent welcomed back a missing member who had been away due to illness. She received a warm amen from the audience.

Strangely though to me, I, as a visitor, was never acknowledged. Although there were only a dozen of us there, there was no welcome extended to the visitor(s). Cardinal Sin #1 Continue reading

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? Continue reading

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. Continue reading

You Can’t Give what You Don’t Have

To be a Sabbath School teacher, is to play one of the most vital roles today in the organized church. Every week men and women throughout this denomination stand before groups of people teaching the bible. Besides the pastor in the pulpit, Sabbath school teachers have more biblical involvement in the lives of the church members than any other group.

With this privilege comes a weighty responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. To know that we all will have to give an account of our words and actions one day should heighten our awareness of the seriousness of the role we play in this last day movement.

Whether we admit it or not, who we are the 6 other days of the week, will influence those we interact with on Sabbath during Sabbath School. One of the great principles of spiritual life is that we cannot give what we don’t have. Continue reading

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. Continue reading