There are a lot of myths about teaching Bible classes or faith based tutoring programs for kids and teens. One is that you must be incredibly gifted by God in teaching in order to make a positive impact on young people. The reality is some incredibly gifted teachers are virtually ineffective because they have one or more fatal flaws.
Oddly enough, those who are uncertain about their giftedness in teaching, but volunteer anyway, can also fall into the same traps. None of us are immune. Satan probably uses these fatal flaws to make all of us less effective in our ministries from time to time. Some of us may eventually find our entire ministry to kids and teens derailed because we continue to allow these fatal flaws in our lives.
So what are the three major fatal flaws to avoid when teaching or tutoring kids and teens in an effort to point them towards God?
- Lack of self-discipline. This can take a variety of forms. Sometimes it is merely a lack of self-discipline when it comes to planning and preparing for your lessons. Not having the self-discipline to carve out ample time to create, study and execute an effective lesson – phoning it in at the last minute instead- robs your students of the knowledge and experience God may have wanted them to gain from your class. A lack of self-discipline can also create problems when it causes you to sin publicly in ways your students can easily see. Sinning is normal, but chronic sinning resulting mainly from a laziness to attempt to live a godly life can hinder your impact. How much are your students going to accept the importance of honesty (for example) when they have caught you in multiple lies – mainly because lying was easier than telling the truth? Finally, a lack of self-discipline in your personal prayer and Bible study can hinder your ministry in the slyest of ways. Over time, your faith and spiritual stamina will weaken if you are not in regular prayer and Bible study for yourself – not just to teach.
- Lack of humility. Strangely, the lack of humility can hinder the ministry of both teachers who are gifted by God to teach and those who struggle to teach young people. For the gifted teacher, the lack of humility is seen in several ways. Often gifted teachers fail to prepare for classes, assuming their worst is often better than the best of less gifted teachers. They refuse to attend teacher training opportunities or read books or even the Bible to improve their teaching. Oddly enough, those who struggle with teaching can exhibit the same lack of humility – sometimes known as the “humble brag”. “I am hopeless. I do the best I can, but I will never be as good as _____.” These people will also put less effort into preparation of their lessons and avoid training or reading about teaching. They are almost proud of their lack of gift in a strange sort of way and don’t want to put in the effort to grow and improve.
- Lack of an understanding of the extreme value and importance of young people to God. Nothing breaks my heart more than hearing adults dismiss the importance of Bible classes and other opportunities for kids and teens to learn about God. The teachings of Jesus about children make it so clear how highly valued children and their training about God is. Teachers who assume it doesn’t matter what they do because their students will get it at home or somewhere else show a basic lack of understanding of how incredibly important those young people are to God.
Whether you are a naturally gifted teacher or have to struggle to teach children, you can have a tremendous impact on the spiritual lives of your students. Avoiding these three fatal flaws in your thoughts and actions will help your students get the maximum impact from your lessons.