I am the assistant Sunday school teacher of my Sunday school class. The lead teacher and I have a bit of a partnership going on when it comes to our class. We tend to co-teach, taking turns handling the actual lesson. February and March have been my turn to teach.
Previously when it has been my turn to teach – and even when it hasn’t been my turn – I have been very diligent in preparing. I have spent the entire week reading and rereading the text, taking notes each day, and bringing all of my notes and thoughts to the final Sunday school preparation time – just to discard nearly 90% of all I had gleaned through the week’s study. Why? It’s quite simple, actually. I learn much more than what falls within the scope of the Sunday school lesson. Not everything fits, whether due to content and topic or due to limited class time.
Without truly acknowledging what I was doing, I moved into this most recent teaching period with a much more lax attitude and approach to studying and preparation. I began putting much less into the study – and discarding much less of what I prepared. My preparation more closely mirrored the needed output. My study became less and less focused and intentional. Then I came to a point when two weeks in a row I waited until Saturday to even begin to prepare for Sunday’s lesson.
Finally, the Lord woke me up.
Am I really so conceited and proud as to think that the only purpose of my preparation for teaching is to present the material? Is there no learning or growing I need to experience through the preparation? Is there nothing the Lord wants to use to transform me more into His image?
There are many reasons for studying a passage of Scripture. Personal devotion. Group Bible study. Sunday school. Answering a question. Whatever the case may be, we do not need to limit our learning to the scope of the reason for study. Sometimes things in my personal devotional time are meant to be shared with others. Sometimes preparation for Sunday school or a group study produces learning that is never meant to be shared in the group – it is just meant for me. Sometimes answering someone else’s question helps me grow personally. Whatever the case may be, I should never, never enter Scripture study half-heartedly. I should never just assume that my half-hearted attempt to prepare for a lesson is enough, whether I’m the teacher or the learner.
Once the Lord opened my eyes, I renewed my commitment, and the past few weeks of preparation have been really enjoyable Who knows what side benefit might come from the 90% that doesn’t get presented in class? The one certainty is that it will not be wasted learning.