My son was quite startled at our Christmas Eve service when he was five. As the pastor began with the familiar words “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world…” from Luke 2, my son leaned over to me, cupped his hand around my ear and whispered, “That’s the same story they told last year! Don’t they have a new story this year?”
As Christians we have the same wonderful story to tell. And the Lord, out of His mercy, has made us part of His story!
But if you are teaching the same things repeatedly — say you teach a “Christian basics” class at your church several times a year — how can you keep your enthusiasm high?
Few things can kill a Bible teacher’s effectiveness faster than being bored while you teach. You must have high energy and enthusiasm as you teach. It’s simply critical for Bible teaching that changes lives. Howard Hendricks told his students in seminary, “Don’t you dare bore people with the Gospel. You can bore them with Calculus or Economics, but don’t bore them with the Gospel.”
I was not surprised to read the recent study of the best college teachers – who are consistently great teachers year after year – found that they kept their teaching fresh and inspiring, no matter how many times they taught the same topics. Here was something the researchers heard consistently in interview after interview with these teachers:
Great teachers are excited about their subject, and convey that energy and enthusiasm to their students. They’re passionate, and their students learn better because of it.
Let me give you the simple secret to teaching the same material with continued passion.
Think back to your awe and excitement the first time someone explained the story to you, the first time you “got it.” Can you remember how you felt about it? How it hit you logically, emotionally, spiritually, and something powerful inside of you said “YES!” Think back to those moments of joy and insight, and re-experience it.
Now ask the Lord to help you help your students experience the same thing. (This is a prayer God loves to answer quickly!)
That’s the secret to regaining joy, enthusiasm, and passion. Return to your memory, reconnect with that first joy and excitement, and then pray for God to help you convey the same excitement to others.
When we’re joyful, and our students see passion, they’re much more likely to learn. It’s contagious.
In fact, you can even tell them about this. Tell them something like, “This is the 19th time I’ve taught this, and I’m still excited to share it.”
By the way, my son is pretty grown up now. And he loves to tell the Christmas story!