September 16, 2007

I hate being weak . . .

Regular Sunday school classes start today, and even though I’ve taught for years, I still feel hopelessly inadequate for this. Who am I to have this responsibility? What do I know?

Specific reasons differ from week to week. My class has been ladies that I know well, but this year there are some I’ve never met before. Will I teach over their heads? Will I be repeating things they already know? Do they have learning challenges that will throw me for a loop? I know what to expect from most of them, but am never sure about newcomers.

The topics, even though familiar, often challenge me too. Besides that, someone will say something in class that challenges my ideas. Will that discussion be a distraction to the rest of them? Or will I have the ability to turn it into a good learning experience?

I study the topic thoroughly, but have learned that I can only teach what God has taught me. Yet some days I feel as if I don’t know anything. While I don’t want them to put me on a pedestal, I also don’t want to lead them astray when they ask important questions.

Sigh. I understand why James wrote, “Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” This begins a passage about the difficulty of controlling our tongue, and I don’t want to blurt out anything that will harm, insult, or lead anyone astray. Instead, I want to glorify God and encourage these women (and myself) to trust the Lord and be like Jesus.

Today’s verse from my devotional guide is God’s way of showing me how He knows my heart. It is a favorite, 2 Corinthians 12:9. “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’”

With impeccable timing, God reminds me again that whatever I do for Him is not about me or my abilities. In fact, He wants me weak and feeling helpless. When I am, then I depend on Him, but more than that, if something good happens in the class, He gets the praise, not me.

I’ve told my class how important this weak/strong thing is in serving God, but also how difficult it is. When His people are weak, others see the power of God, but we feel the weakness. I’ve even said that if I come to church on Sunday morning full of confidence about the class material for the day and my ability to teach it, I begin to worry. He has taught me through experience that this sort of confidence is misplaced and things will not turn out as I expect.

But I don’t like feeling weak. I like to feel confident in myself, or at least confident that God will do something wonderful. However such confidence easily turns into presumption — another precursor to a crash. Instead, God tells me His grace is enough, more than enough, and I have to trust Him, no matter what is going on at the level of my feelings, and regardless of the fact that after reading this word of encouragement, I still feel helpless.

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