Are you a visual learner? Do you like seeing the big picture before someone starts giving you all of the details? Can you picture things when people begin describing them to you? For many of us, having a visual of a concept or a plan helps us remember where we are headed. It helps us recall our purpose and our goals. It can even motivate us when the every day issues of striving towards a goal become exhausting.
This summer someone introduced me to what I think is a wonderful vision for teaching the Bible to kids and teens. It’s found in Psalm 1.
Blessed is the person who obeys the law of the Lord.
They don’t follow the advice of evil people.
They don’t make a habit of doing what sinners do.
They don’t join those who make fun of the Lord and his law.
Instead, the law of the Lord gives them joy.
They think about his law day and night.
That kind of person is like a tree that is planted near a stream of water.
It always bears its fruit at the right time.
Its leaves don’t dry up.
Everything godly people do turns out well.
Sinful people are not like that at all.
They are like straw
that the wind blows away.
When the Lord judges them, their life will come to an end.
Sinners won’t have any place among those who are godly.
The Lord watches over the lives of godly people.
But the lives of sinful people will lead to their death. (NIrV)
The image of a beautiful tree by a stream is absolutely perfect for a visual of what we are trying to do as we teach children and teens about God. We want to give them strong roots of faith. We need to teach them how to be independent Bible readers. We want them to learn to soak up and love God’s wisdom in scripture. We want to help them develop an independent, rich prayer life. We need to teach them Christian Life Skills so they know how to put God’s commands into practice in their own lives. We want to help them ground their faith in God – not man. To base their life on what God wants for them and from them.
But our privilege is to also help them develop a strong “trunk” to their faith tree. The godly relationships they develop. The fellowship and worship with fellow Christians. Godly friends. Older Christian men and women who mentor them in the faith as commanded in Titus. The relationships God provides to encourage Christians and strengthen their faith.
Then our joy is to help them begin to produce fruit. To help them discover the gifts God gave them to serve Him. To begin helping them develop those gifts and use them in to serve God.
When you plan your lessons and activities for your students – think of the Psalm 1 tree. When you pray for your students – think of the Psalm 1 tree. When you spend time talking with them or taking them on field trips – think of the Psalm 1 tree. When you are exhausted and feel like your efforts aren’t making a positive difference in their spiritual lives – think of the Psalm 1 tree. I hope and pray it gives you the same joy and peace it gives me as I work with young people, their families and the volunteers who serve them.