By Betty Young
Praise God for those who pastor and serve children. Thank you for your commitment to this challenging ministry in the church. We celebrate your call and commitment to children. Without fanfare or attention, you sow God’s truth into the hearts of young learners. Every week you invest time and resources to build relationships with children so that foundational truths of God’s Word can take root and flourish.
Last year I reconnected with one of my Sunday School teachers from the church where I first became a Christian. When we finally met after over 50 years, I thanked her for investing in my life. In large part, I am the Christian I am today because of her prayers, hard work and devotion to making a difference in young lives. In her 80’s now, she is still devoted and obedient to God. It took me a lifetime to find her and express my appreciation for all she did for me.
It came full circle for me when recently at an event where there were many members from my former church present, a previous Sunday School student approached me to thank me for my influence on her as a young teen. She is newly retired now (she is a young retiree) but she wanted me to know that she became a pastor’s wife who alongside her husband founded a church and raised children who are devoted to God. She had me to thank for her encounter with Jesus as a young person which gave her the opportunity to live an abundant and fruitful life. Praise God!
Perhaps because I so recently became aware of how God placed mature Christians in my life to change me as a thirteen-year-old, that I wept at the notion that God so graciously used my life to influence another. As a new Christian, I was immature and less than adequate, but our gracious God used my first steps toward obedience to influence others for his kingdom and service.
As a young Christian I was scarcely a suitable Sunday School teacher. There were many Sundays I spent more time chasing kids from under tables than teaching a Bible lesson. Many Sundays, when the kids misbehaved, the classroom looked more like a jungle gym than where spiritual truths were taught. My carefully prepared lessons often fell flat, and the words seem to fall to the ground. I often wondered if I was making a difference in the spiritual lives of my young learners.
Do these experiences echo in your life? You may periodically wonder if it’s worth all the work and effort. Some Sundays are just plain hard. It can be difficult to carve out time to prepare the lesson every week on top of responsibilities of a full-time job and care of your own family. It takes effort to come early to prepare the classroom for your students. Often, because of your commitment to your class, you miss out on special events with your congregation or having time to fellowship and connect with friends.
May I share some encouraging words? If you are a Sunday School teacher or if you work with young people, you have the privilege of teaching and proclaiming the Word of God every week. As you faithfully pray and prepare for another Sunday, your work is not in vain. Little ears are listening, and lives are being changed for eternity. You may never know until you get to heaven what God will do in the lives of the children you serve. On the other hand, you may one day see those same children serving in the body of Christ as an able leader, a Sunday School teacher, a pastor or a missionary. Perhaps, as was my experience, a former student will one day look you up to express her debt to you for your investment in his/her life.
The Bible tells us that the Word of God does not return to Him empty. Isaiah 55:10-11: “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Continue your good work. May these words encourage you in your preparation of yet another lesson and as you labor in prayer for your students.