Leaving a Legacy in Sunday School
I’ve recently taken a break from teaching Sunday school after twenty-five years or so of continual teaching. As I think about it, I wonder what all the children I’ve taught through the years will remember about me, about my class. Ideally, I want them to remember me as someone who really loved the Lord and loved them and who showed them Jesus.
Is this too much to ask? Maybe. At least I know in my head that third and fourth graders are not going to verbalize that kind of commendation to their parents or to me. They think more concretely, and share about feelings and likes and dislikes. It’s not that third and fourth graders can’t think abstractly; it’s just harder for them to do, and probably difficult for them to find the words to express that kind of thinking.
My students likely won’t remember any individual lessons I taught—even my best lessons, those times in which the students really seemed to “get it.” (I can understand that; I don’t remember individual lessons my Sunday school teachers taught, either.)
No, if my students talk about me at all, they will likely say that I’m the teacher who gave them hot cocoa in class, or who played games with them. They may remember, “That’s the class with the couch in it,” or, “She gave us crackers for snack.”
When you think about it, that’s not a bad way to be remembered. Crackers? The majority of my students came in hungry (they just didn’t take time for a full breakfast). We all like treats, right? Why not hot cocoa, especially in the winter months? After all, the grown-ups walked around the church with coffee. I cared for the children’s physical needs, right where they were. (I think the crackers helped them settle down for the Bible lesson, too.)
Most kids like games of some sort. Games are fun, and they helped me teach. Again, it was a way to get the students involved right where they were.
And then there’s the couch—a hand-me-down, lived-in, and I suppose rather ugly sofa. But it was more comfortable than sitting in chairs at the table. So there were times when several children would hang out on that couch.
Comfortable is a good word, a good feeling. The games, the food, the cocoa, and the couch all contributed to a feeling of comfort, of belonging, of security for the children—and even for me.
Remember how the disciples discouraged mothers from bringing their children to Jesus? Jesus’ reprimand reminded his followers to welcome the children. And so I tried to welcome the children—as well as teach them about Jesus and God’s amazing Word.
I’m trusting that when my students look back on their time in my class, they will at least feel a warm memory of comfort and belonging—and understand that Jesus welcomes them.