Mid-Year Zeal

ID-100314922 The month of January: The days are short and the nights are long and cold (for some of us). The busy holiday season is over, and I’m tired and worn. And sometimes this attitude carries over into the classroom. The eagerness and energy of the school year’s beginning has diminished. What’s a teacher to do to fight against the mid-year doldrums? The following is some great advice given to Sunday school teachers by John Angell James in his article “The Most Effectual Means of Keeping Up Zeal.” Although written in 19th century language, it still bears heeding today. Also, I have added [in brackets] a few contemporary practical examples to consider.

Zeal is apt to languish, when it is no longer excited by the stimulus of novelty—and the fervor of first love, without great care, will soon sink into dull formality. It is not to be wondered at, if among the active supporters of a Sunday School, the vice of lukewarmness should sometimes be found. Hence it is of importance to ascertain the best means for keeping up the zeal of the teacher's office. By this I mean, the prosecution of its duties with vigor, interest, and delight—in opposition to that lifeless and indolent manner of dragging through them which is but too common with many.

  1. Keep in view the ultimate object of your labors. …the necessity of keeping steadily and clearly before your mind, the salvation of the soul, as the ultimate end of all your efforts… If anything can keep your attention alive to the interests of the children, it will be the constant repetition of this sentiment—"I am seeking their everlasting salvation!"
  1. Well conducted Sunday School Unions have a powerful tendency to promote the spirit of your office. The occasional meeting of fellow laborers from different schools, together with the interesting communications and mutual exhortations which are then delivered, have a very enlivening effect. [Sounds like the CDG National Conference in Indianapolis would be the perfect venue for this!]
  1. Occasional meetings among the teachers of the same school, for conversation and prayer, in immediate reference to their joint labors, are exceedingly beneficial. [When is the last time your classroom team met together for this? Schedule a get-together soon!]
  1. Ministerial assistance, in the way of exhortation, inspection, and advice, would powerfully contribute to keep up the true spirit of the office. [Ask your pastor if he would bless the children’s and youth ministry volunteers by scheduling a special meeting to exhort and encourage you together.]
  1. A constant perusal of publications that relate to Sunday School instruction, especially the details of successful exertion, would be exceedingly useful. [Have you exhausted the resources on the CDG website yet? Things like training seminars, blog posts, and other helpful resources? What about reading a book such as Teaching to Change Lives.]
  1. An imitation of the best examples would promote the same end. In every school we shall find some whose superior qualifications and zeal entitle them to be considered as models. Instead of observing them with envy, mark them with admiration, cultivate their acquaintance, and endeavor, by the glowing ardor of their spirit, to re-kindle the fervor of your own. [Feeling like your teaching has become “dry”? Take a Sunday off and watch another gifted teacher. Sit down with them and ask advice and pray together.]
  1. Occasionally devoting a portion of time to examine the state of the mind in reference to your duties, would be a means of improvement. [Set aside some time for studying the Word, meditating on it, examining your own heart and spiritual health, and then “take it to the Lord in prayer.”]

(found at www.gracegems.org)

(Image courtesy of Vitolef at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

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