When asked to teach children, it can sometimes be uncomfortable. I grew up in a generation of trust. We trusted the adults. There were times when I discovered that adults were teaching me principles which they were not following themselves, and it shocked and hurt me. I felt duped. I was extremely disappointed in the hypocrisy. I no longer trusted the individual who duped me.
As a struggling, confused teenager, there came a time when I felt so badly betrayed that I not only removed myself from the dishonest adults, but from the organization they represented. Unfortunately, the untrustworthy hypocritical adults represented my church. When I was 17 years old, I wasn’t able to sort out the difference between correct principles and imperfect adults.
After many years, I came back to church, realizing that I had wasted a good portion of my life that I will never be able to retrieve. If only I had been able to understand that people are people, but correct principles never fail. If I’d been understanding instead of bitter, things would have been much different.
On my return to church, I was immediately asked to teach a class of ten-year-old children. I was terrified. At that point in my life, I was struggling with my own dragons. I knew firsthand the danger those youth faced by having me as their teacher. If they put me on a pedestal, they were doomed. They would eventually discover my inadequacies, and I’d fall off the pedestal with a bang.
I had always been a private person, and I didn’t like what I was about to do, but I had to tell these children the truth. The curriculum was clear, and I had to teach each lesson in the manual. Some lessons I had no problem teaching. Other lessons were very difficult for me. I taught the children to learn from my own mistakes. It was the only way I could possibly teach certain lessons.
As the year progressed, I often laid my life with all its imperfections in front of the children and said, “Here is what I did, and this is how I am paying for it.” I taught them the right principles, but made very sure that they could never place me on that pedestal.
It was only a year or so before I was called to lead the children’s organization in my church. Again, I was terrified. This meant that I would be teaching lessons to all the children in the congregation–but there would also be other adults present. If I were to continue to make my life an open book to the children, the adults would also be privy to that same information. Privacy would be a thing of the past. I accepted the call to lead, and my privacy was gone.
Many times since then I’ve been asked to teach, lead, and speak in church. Although I’ve received training on a number of occasions which included a variety of teaching techniques, the only way I know how to teach is to use my own life as an example–and often that means an example of what not to do.
I may not be the best teacher. Those I teach may not go away with a warm fuzzy feeling at times. Sometimes, they may even come away feeling that I’m a crazy whacked person. I’m okay with that. It’s okay because I know that they will not discover later a fault in my character that I haven’t already exposed.
Teaching is very uncomfortable for me, but I’ve spent a number of years teaching in some capacity. It seems no matter what I am called to do, there is an element of teaching involved. I just keep remembering that when it is uncomfortable, be honest.