Q: A Sunday school teacher I had more than 30 years ago died recently, and I feel bad because I never thanked her for what she did for me. We were a rowdy bunch and I’m sure she got discouraged, but she planted spiritual seeds in my soul that eventually grew. Maybe my letter will encourage other teachers. — G.R.B.
A: Thank you for your letter; I too hope it will encourage those who have been called to teach the Bible, especially to young people. We can trust God’s promise: “My word … will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
Why did God use this teacher (even if she wasn’t aware of it)? I didn’t know her, of course, but I suspect there were at least three reasons. First, preparation. She didn’t do her lessons shoddily or at the last minute; she took her responsibilities seriously. Paul told his young co-worker Timothy to “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them” (1 Timothy 4:15).
Second, prayer. Effective Bible teachers know they must not depend on their own abilities; they need God’s guidance and blessing. They also pray for their students, that God would open their hearts and minds to his truth, and plant the seed of his Word within them (as happened with you).
Finally, patience. It takes patience to be a teacher, especially with children who are easily distracted or don’t seem to be paying attention. But God is still at work, and even when it doesn’t seem like anything is taking place, God’s Word is still active. Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).
Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or go to BillyGraham.org.