Secrets of Happy Teachers

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Teachers come in all personality types, from diverse
backgrounds, and with very different styles. I’ve seen a quiet,
middle-aged, balding man in polyester pants, who at first glance
appeared to be a boring instructor, come to life with such
animation and excitement about his subject that children were
spellbound. I once heard a sweet little grandmother tell beautiful
Bible stories to preschoolers as though she’d been doing it all her
life. Later, I discovered she’d spent 15 years in jail for
embezzlement before she met Jesus at age 55.

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But the teachers I’ve enjoyed watching the most are those who
don’t think they can teach. They refuse to try teaching a Sunday
school class for years. When they’re finally talked into it,
they’re pleasantly surprised because they enjoy preparing the
lesson, children love them, and everyone can’t wait until next
Sunday. For these teachers, the road to teaching is a true
adventure. And they have a few secrets to share with all of us.

Happy Teachers Are Adventurous

The thrill of teaching isn’t like a short sprint; it’s more like
a marathon. A short sprinter teaches in the same classroom with the
same furniture and decorates the same old bulletin board month
after month. If the sprinter has taught very long, he or she
frequently tells the same stories and grabs the same old lesson
plan. Every week, the same “problem” children show up. Where is the
adventure in that?

For marathoners, their discipline comes from a deep, inner
commitment. They’re in it for the long haul. It reflects a strong
desire to be the best they can be. When the alarm signals their 6
a.m. workout, no one needs to pull them out of bed and lace up
their track shoes. It’s their personal zest for adventure that
spurs them on. In the same way, adventurous teachers do more than
the lesson requires. They scrutinize the curriculum to determine if
the printed activities will really work for their kids. Then they
add new crafts, games, experiences, and devotions because they
strongly desire that their students learn all that God has for
them.

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Are you that adventurous about making an impact on children’s
faith? What would it take for you to rediscover the quest?

Secrets of Adventurous Teachers

  • They look for fresh, creative ways to present Bible
    lessons.
  • They sacrifice TV time for lesson preparation.
  • They attend training events-even at their expense.
  • They search out and invite guests to speak to their class.
  • They pray for miracles and watch for results.
  • They keep a camera in class for memorable moments.
  • They get their class out of the building for fun and
    service.
  • They never stop being a kid themselves.

Happy Teachers Are Affectionate

Someone once said, “If Jesus had a refrigerator, your picture
would be on it.” That’s where we keep all the most important
people’s photos, right? Jesus constantly demonstrated unconditional
love for his followers, especially the children.

At the age of 8, I followed Jesus as my Savior at a children’s
crusade in my home church in Illinois. My teacher, Miss Kliver, was
what some folks called an “old maid.” What I remember most about
this gentle lady, though, is our class Christmas parties at her
home. We made Christmas houses out of white sugar cubes with pink
icing. I don’t know why the icing wasn’t red or green, but I
remember the houses because every year she took pictures and gave
one to each of us. In 1999, Miss Kliver celebrated her 100th
birthday. We all sent cards. The love she freely poured out on us
continued to bring her much happiness.

Henrietta Mears was a master teacher with far-reaching
influence. Her teaching challenged some of the greatest leaders of
our time-evangelist Billy Graham, ministry founder Bill Bright, and
author Richard Halverson. Ruth Graham remembered Miss Mears’ love
for her students. “I think Miss Mears had the greatest capacity for
loving people of almost anyone I know,” Ruth said. “Some of us talk
about love. Miss Mears loved. No wonder God used her!”

On a “Love Scale” from 1 to 10, how would your students describe
you? What would it take for you to show your students that love is
an action, not simply a word?

Secrets of Affectionate Teachers

  • They pray for wisdom to see each child through Jesus’
    eyes.
  • They write loving notes to their students.
  • They discover each child’s special interest and talk about
    it.
  • They make simple Christmas presents for each child.
  • They invite students home for a party.
  • They keep their students’ pictures on the refrigerator.
  • They’re huggers.

Happy Teachers Are Addicted

Stories of people trapped in a variety of addictions fill
today’s news headlines. Each year notable athletes, movie stars,
doctors, and politicians enter rehab centers by the thousands. Some
are addicted to alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, or the
thirst for power. We don’t read much, though, about people addicted
to serving others and making the world a better place. As I’ve
heard stories of teachers serving 20, 40, and even 60 years, I’m
amazed at how their addiction has shaped so many lives.

Iris Regester began teaching first-grade boys in the 1940s and
continued until two weeks before her death at the age of 83. She
studied her lesson on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and
Friday. Her 6-year-olds never failed to memorize their Scripture
verses and loved quoting them for adult Bible classes. In later
years, Mrs. Regester was known for her pocket of Sweet TARTS candy
that each child received at the end of class. Mrs. Regester didn’t
ask for summers off, and she showed up on holidays. No one was
surprised that at her funeral “Jesus Loves Me” was sung;
first-graders filled the front pew and passed out Sweet TARTS candy
following the service. Mrs. Regester was addicted to teaching
children, and it became her legacy.

In 20 years of serving as a children’s pastor, I’ve ventured
into a few other areas. I thought leading a women’s ministry might
be nice. Then I worked several years for a major Christian
publisher. I even tried outreach to senior adults. What I learned
was that these things weren’t God’s call on my life.

I can painfully recall being stuck in a Los Angeles traffic jam
on my way to a sales presentation. After weeks of frustration, I
spoke to God aloud in my car, “Lord, I don’t care how many books
are in a case or what the ISBN number is! This is just not me!”
Immediately, I felt a clear message form in my spirit. It was so
powerful that I went home five hours later and wrote it in my
prayer journal word for word. The Lord seemed to say, “I have given
you the gift of teaching. Whether you are teaching children or
adults with speaking or writing, you will always feel fulfilled.” A
few months later, I quit my job with the publisher and returned to
local church ministry.

Do you know who you are in Christ? Have you surrendered to God’s
plan? Are you experiencing contentment in your teaching?

Secrets of Addicted Teachers

  • They ask for their materials well ahead of time.
  • They keep files on all their lesson aids.
  • They wear crazy hats, T-shirts, and smocks.
  • They get to class early and stay late.
  • l They’re constantly rearranging their classroom
    furniture.
  • They spend their money on students.
  • They get bored in adult classes because there’s nothing to
    color or cut out.
  • They have nearly perfect attendance.

Whether others call these happy people born teachers or artists,
they’re an amazingly diverse group of people with an innate love
for children, who are constantly learning how to be even more
effective. And any way you look at it, that’s a happy
combination.


Pat Verbal is a children’s minister in Texas. Please keep in
mind that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are subject to
change.

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