Tag Archives: training

Weekend Reflections: Time Management and Training Others

What you are about to read are my weekend reflections. Back a few weeks ago, I started doing this in a notebook for my own personal benefit. This isn’t a diary, trust me, I have a beard. But it is a time for me to reflect on the past week for the following purposes: so that I may contemplate on what most stood out to me Sunday through Friday; so that I can think on the biblical and practical lessons the Lord has taught me most recently; so that I can see what can be done more productively or differently; so that I can improve upon what I’m already doing; and so that I can encourage you in your own personal walk with Christ, or you area of ministry.  Til now I’ve been keeping these reflections to myself, but I’d like to share them with you today. These are some of the lessons the Lord has impressed upon me this past week.

Time Management and Productivity

We are called by God to be stewards. A steward is someone appointed to look after, manage, or supervise another’s property. We know from Scripture that everything in the earth is the Lord’s, and that He has called us to steward His property. So Christians are to be stewards of their talents, their finances, and also their time. All of these things which belong to the Lord. But perhaps the most difficult area of stewardship is our time, and managing it well. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (emphasis mine).

In today’s world, it is increasingly difficult to spend our time most efficiently – let alone spending that time honoring the Lord in what we do. Well, the Lord has been teaching me a few lessons for the past few weeks, and especially this past week. One of those lessons is this: faithful time stewardship today ensures faithful time stewardship tomorrow. Or put another way, faithful time stewardship yesterday ensures more faithful time stewardship today. If we spend our time well today, it always ensures that tomorrow’s time will be spent even better. 

Practically speaking, there are many things I’ve tried to do that have proved helpful in being a better steward of my own time. Knowing that if I spend my time well today I can spend it better tomorrow, I have implemented a few different habits that have certainly helped me. First, I’ve tried to wake up earlier and get to bed earlier. Waking up early is sort of a “love-hate” thing for me. I love the stillness of the morning, and I am as active as a carpenter’s pencil in the morning. But I have difficulty getting up at my first or second alarm. What helps me to wake up is to prepare my favorite breakfast the night before, and plan on doing at least one major thing that will get my blood pumping the next morning. That way, I’ve got something enjoyable to look forward to when I open my eyes in the morning. I know that I’ve got that delicious smoothie waiting to be enjoyed; I know that I’ve got at least 15 mins to run in my neighborhood as the sun rises. Of course, as a pastor, I work the same 9-3 hours as most everyone else. Those hours are not always spent at the office (which is my bedroom too), but they may be spent visiting, making calls, printing materials, or a host of other things. But no matter how busy I am during the day, I try to make it a priority to plan something enjoyable the night before, so that I can wake up ready to go. I mean, when did any of us stay in bed on Christmas morning anyway?

The second thing I’ve tried to do is ordering my daily tasks by importance and order. I’ll sit down on Sunday evening or Monday morning and write out everything I can perceive that needs to be done on what day(s) – appointments, sermon preparation, visitation, everything. And when I get those tasks written out, I will write a number to the left side of each task. This number indicates the order in which I need to accomplish the tasks. For example, if I’m heading to the church and I need to stop to make a visit, I’ll put a out by the visit and a out by my stopping by the church. That way, I can keep up with the order of things and not leave anything out. I also do this for the principle of doing first things first. If I get an unexpected interruption and I’m not able to complete some of the smaller, less important things, then I’m still okay. Why? Because I completed the first things first. The things that are most important in my to-do list need to be done first. That way I’m not having anxiety about completing those important tasks, and my less-important tasks can have as much flexibility as they need.

Training Others to Teach Scripture

When God gives us a task to complete, or when He calls us to a particular task or ministry, we are to do those things and fulfill those ministries with excellence because it is the Lord’s work that we are doing. Paul says that we are to give ourselves fully to the Lord’s work: “always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58, ESV). So for this reason and many others, all that we do should be done with excellence of service—whether it is teaching Sunday School, cleaning the worship center, setting up the student area, or helping a child make a craft.

In order to complete those tasks, and fulfill our ministries, we need to be properly educated and trained to do so. One of the best ways that excellence is ensured in our service is being well-trained at our vocation. Because of this, I try to emphasize the urgency and need for training in all areas of ministry at our church. If you teach the children, you need to know how to teach them and answer their questions. If you work the soundboard, you need to know how to monitor its diverse mechanics. If you teach students, you need to know how to teach in a way that is relevant to this stage in their life.

In the area of Sunday School, it’s been a pleasure for me to train a young man to eventually teach our high school students’ class. He’s been making a lot of progress as we’ve talked, and as I’ve given him a plethora of materials for his training. It’s taken more time out of my daily pastoral ministry duties, but it has been worth it and it will be worth it. I would encourage you to do the same, because we need to take time to invest in our church members, we need to disciple them, teach them new skills, and help them discover their calling or spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).

Pray for this young man, and do the same in your churches – our teachers especially need to be continually refreshed so that they can refresh others. They need to be well-trained so that they too can one day train another to take their place. It’s the biblical model for enlisting and recruiting people to serve in various ministries: “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2, ESV).

As an aside, here are the best resources I’ve ever used or passed on to our Bible teachers:

1. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2. How to Study the Bible by Robert M. West.

3. 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible by Robert L. Plummer.

4. The ESV Study Bible by Crossway.

5. The Complete Bible Answer Book by Hank Hanegraaff.

9 Practical Tips for Teaching Vacation Bible School

Being one of the greatest evangelistic outreaches from the local church, vacation Bible school takes a lot of planning, promotion, and preparation. There are cooks, counselors, decorators, teachers, and many other positions to fill to make vacation Bible school a success. I have a passion for teaching and for training teachers, and below I share a few things that I believe will help you teach this year. I have used them in my own teaching ministry, and have found great success from them.

1. Pray for God’s guidance, strength, and direction. Praying for God’s intervention is one of the most important ways to prepare. The Bible tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). When you pray for His guidance, strength, and direction, it is likely He will reveal things to you that you otherwise wouldn’t have seen. He will give you the courage and strength you need to lead. And He will give you the wisdom and direction to make the right decisions moment by moment. When we try to serve the Lord out of our own strength, we only accomplish human-size results. But when we serve through His strength, we accomplish God-sized results. That sounds better to me. I encourage you to depend on God as you teach during VBS. Without dependence and reliance on God, nothing fruitful can be accomplished.

2. Know how to lead a child to Christ. Every church’s main goal during VBS every year should not be great numbers or even to simply have a “good VBS.” Our main goal is the salvation of souls. Through your Bible teaching and prayers, it is our hope that many children will come to Christ. Essential to this is knowing how to lead a child to Christ. This should be elementary for the Christian – every believer should know how to lead someone to Jesus. You need to know how to lead a child to Christ if they were to ask you. Chances are, you will have one or two in each class (depending on the size) who want to be saved but don’t know how. In your leader material, usually it is always emphasized that you remind your kids each day how to be saved. Speak with the child on their level and simply present the gospel. There are many helpful ways to present the gospel of Christ. The classic ABC’s of salvation are fine (Admit, Believe, and Confess). The Romans Road is a favorite (Rom. 3:23; 5:8; 6:23). I typically follow this acronym in explaining salvation to anyone of any age: R. R. R. or the 3 R’s. 1) Realize. Realize you are a sinner in need of a Savior (Rom. 3:23). Make sure the child understands they are a sinner. If they don’t understand that they are sinners, they won’t recognize their need for a Savior. 2) Repent. Repentance involves a turning away from sin towards God. The child must understand this concept of turning away from all the wrong we have done and towards God. 3) Receive. Finally, we must receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It’s not enough to realize we are sinners and repent of our sins—we must also put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be saved. If you feel inadequate for this task, but a child requests to be saved, see your pastor, youth pastor, elders or deacons, but never say no.

3. Set the atmosphere. VBS is a time for kids. The usual white wall class rooms you might use for your classes are not inviting. Decorate like crazy, and make sure it follows your VBS theme. Get on Pinterest for project ideas so you don’t spend much money. Most VBS material comes with a decorating guide as well. Go as far perhaps, as dressing up to match up with the theme. Think of ideas and ways to decorate your room to look to fit the theme.

4. Study the Bible. This is perhaps the most important tip for effective teaching. In fact, teaching effectively is impossible without it. You cannot teach the Bible rightly without studying it. Studying the Bible can be compared to mining for gold. If we make little effort and merely “sift through the pebbles in a stream,” we will only find a little gold dust. But the more we make an effort to really dig into it, the more reward we will gain for our effort. “I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word” (Psalm 119:16). Study the passages of Scripture that you are to teach (should be outlined in your leader material). Teaching the Bible is a great privilege, but it does take a lot of preparation and time.

5. Review your leader book. Your leader book will tell you just about everything you need to know. It will show you how to teach the children and some helpful tips on what to say and do. Remember, you don’t have to follow the strict schedule listed in your leader book. You don’t have to do or say everything that is included in it, but only use what is best fitting for the time and atmosphere. Another thing too is the crafts. There are many crafts incorporated into the leader book that it asks you to do. If you have a craft department, as we do this year, you don’t have to do the craft in the booklet unless you feel like it would be helpful to illustrate the lesson. Use your time wisely. Review your leader book as often as you can.

6. Pray for your children. In your prayer time alone with God, pray for your children. Pray for their salvation and that they would grow in their relationship with God. Pray for them by name. If the child mentions a need to you personally, pray for that need. Pray with your children during appropriate class times as well.

7. Get to know your children. Don’t distance yourself from your children. You need to get to know them. The best thing you can learn about them is their name. But also, learn what they enjoy doing. Learn who their parents are. Learn what grade they’re in or what sport they play. Eat with them during our meal times. Play outside with them during recreation times and get involved with them during craft time. Now, it takes time for some children to warm up to you, so expect this sometimes. Even some children will not warm up to you at all. Many of them come from backgrounds where they cannot trust an adult figure. But it shows a sincere concern for the child when you speak to them on their level and attempt to get to know them. Be intentionally friendly with them, but don’t overdo it to the point where they feel awkward.

8. Use classroom discipline when necessary. There is a need in every classroom for discipline. Maybe the children are too loud and your teaching can’t be heard. Maybe one child is acting up, or maybe there is another problem. Use patience with this, for there will always be some noise—you just have to deal with it. At other times when it is inappropriate, get your other teacher to help.

9. Keep a check on registration. All churches want to follow up with the kids they have at VBS. There should be an easy-to-find registration place for the kids that attend your VBS. At registration, we learn their emergency contact info, who brought them, who their parents are, and other important information. Take note of every new child you have each day, and get them registered as well.