I am getting more comfortable in the "teacher's chair" as the weeks go by. The group is very talkative, and I'm really starting to get into this! I think that some people must be praying a lot about how things are going... A lot of things are falling into place as I study and prepare the lessons; and often little things mesh together that were not even intended to (the sermon topic and the lesson, a point in the lesson and something someone said in class last week or in a casual email to the group, etc.) People seem to be really lighting up, and that's great to see! I could not have asked for a better opportunity to learn how to teach--and all of the other supportive things that go along with it!
I keep thinking about Dr. Stafford talking about his desire to be a "scholar pastor" while in a pastoral role and a "pastor scholar" when he is in a scholar/teacher's role... That resonated deeply with me. I am realizing that whether or not I am functioning in a pastoral capacity, the pastoral spirit is very important to me as a part of what I do. Part of my educational philosophy is that people learn best when they feel that their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs are met. Certainly, I shouldn't go overboard on this and try to "save the world"--that would be some people's caution. But the solution to the problem of overinvolvement is not separation of education and other things. The solution is me wrestling with how to set and maintain healthy boundaries--boundaries that are flexible enough to bend when necessary but stiff enough not to bend at every bump.
Why am I talking about this? I've been thinking about the importance of getting to know people, making time to call them. It matters. It allows them to begin to feel that I am approachable. And I need to become approachable, especially because I often ask things of them. I needd them to feel that when they have a need, that assertiveness I have to use to get my own needs met is also useful in rallying people for helping them, locating resources for them, etc. This is not just a way for me to participate but a responsibility... "When did we see you hungry...?" I can't see anyone hungry if I don't make myself available.
I also want to help some in the class to take steps toward becoming active in some area of the church's ministries. I believe that there are some who are ready. Additionally, there are some who need personal discipleship in addition to what takes place in class, and I believe that one or two would benefit from other things that I could give in small but meaningful ways.
Back to teaching... I've found that often my lessons take shape differently from what I had planned. This is all due to tangents that tend to take place as people have thoughts about the parts of the lesson that I have planned. I think i need to let this happen without letting it get out of control... Sometimes it means that my lesson points get out of order; but in the grand scheme of things, that isn't such a big deal. I hope I'm learning when to allow it and when to defer a tangent until the best time to get to that point--and when to stop a tangent that is completely unrelated. I'm trying to take advantage of some of the unrelated tangents to encourage personal study and fellowship--it's becoming obvious that some of the class really does seem to enjoy studying, and a couple of them seem to be enjoying it for the first time.