Teachers make all kinds of plans. But things in our classrooms don’t always go our way. We will experience more peace when we hold our plans loosely.
John the Baptist is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible--especially for grade school boys. Let’s face it. He wore camel hair clothes. He ate bugs. And when the Jewish leaders showed up, he boldly rebuked them: “You sons of snakes!” John was confident in who he was. He knew what God had called him to do.
But John also knew his place--second place. John knew his ministry wasn’t for his own benefit. He was called to point others to Jesus. John kept making the point over and over again. He said, “I’ve come to prepare the way for the Lord” (Matthew 3:3). “I’m not worthy to untie his sandals” (John 1:27). “He must become greater. I must become less.” (John 3:30)
In other words, “It’s not about me.” That’s one of the most important lessons when we’re teaching kids. Whether I’m reading a devotional to my daughters at home or teaching a Bible lesson to kids at a church gathering, I’m tempted. I’m tempted to believe teaching time revolves around my authority or skill as the teacher and my lesson plan. But it doesn’t. God wants teachers to point away from themselves and toward the Son. He must become greater. I must become less.
Here are three things we can do to stay in second place while we’re teaching:
Pray. Prayer acknowledges the reality that we’re not in control. We need God’s grace and strength to teach well. We need Him to help the kids to learn. When we pray, we’re asking God to show up in our classrooms. And we acknowledge that He often has better plans than the ones we’ve made.
Be Flexible. Even if your lesson is laid out beautifully, class time doesn’t always go as we plan. Hold your plans loosely, because God may have different ideas. Be prepared, and use your lesson plan as a guide. But don’t be so rigid you can’t roll with the punches if the glue sticks dry up or Johnny gets sick during Bible time. Kids need to see there are more important things than following our plans perfectly.
Join God where He is working. What if a child in your class shares a particularly vulnerable prayer request? What if she asks an insightful question about the Bible passage? We should recognize moments like these as opportunities. Often God shows up and does something that wasn’t in the lesson plan. Joining God where He is at work may mean changing our plans on the fly. It may mean leaving out part of the lesson you’ve spent time preparing, but it’s worth it.
There is joy in holding your plans loosely and expectantly praying for God to work in your classroom. There is joy in seeing God at work then getting to join him in it. After all, your class time isn’t about you. It’s about him.
What helps you hold fast to God and hold your lesson plans loosely?
Check out my Bible storybook, The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible from New Growth Press. Every story contains one big truth about God you can teach to toddlers and young readers.