Have you ever noticed how often we are never satisfied?
Our Sunday school class enjoys discussions rather than lecture, and I find that my preparation needs to be more comprehensive to lead a discussion than it does to lecture, Powell says.
For instance, I enjoy working jigsaw puzzles and often have one in the works on a game table. I'll walk past and think I'll put in just one piece and be done, but it is rare for me to look for just that one piece.
The same thing can be true of preparing to teach a Bible study. I teach a Sunday school class of older adults and use Smyth & Helwys literature.
Excellent teaching help is provided, including a commentary, teaching suggestions and visual tools. There is also an online resource that is very helpful in enriching my preparation to teach on a given Sunday.
But more often than not, I find myself looking for more: more research, more insight, more depth or perhaps a different perspective.
Before I am ready to teach, I want to have been touched myself by what the Scripture means or how God's Spirit can use what I've read or seen to draw me closer to who I need to be and what I need to be doing.
In addition, our class enjoys discussions rather than lecture, and I find that my preparation needs to be more comprehensive to lead a discussion than it does to lecture.
Full disclosure here: I am on the board of directors of the Baptist Center for Ethics, which produces EthicsDaily.com. But even before I was on the board, I went frequently to the website for edification, inspiration, thoughtful articles and other information that often stretches and challenges me.
Since I have been serving on the board, I have made it a point to go to the site every weekday. I continue to be grateful to the staff who put together such compelling content on a continuing basis.
Recently, feeling that I needed more preparation, I typed into EthicsDaily.com's search engine the Scripture reference on which our lesson was based. I was taken immediately to a list of sermons, primarily, in the archives that had been preached on that text.
I was delighted to find several sermons or portions of sermons that provided information I had not found elsewhere. They spoke to me in just the way I needed.
Deeply moved, I was grateful to incorporate someone else's inspiration to minister to others (careful to give credit).
One of our lessons focused on John's account of Jesus' cleansing of the temple. Randy Hyde, a pastor in Little Rock, Ark., in his sermon on this text, gave a history of the political maneuvering of Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin that resulted in his moving the moneychangers and the animal sellers to the Court of the Gentiles from the Kidron Valley, a fact I had never encountered before.
He also emphasized the telling fact that since all of this was happening in the Court of the Gentiles, it was almost impossible for Gentiles to worship, another thing I had never thought about.
Another week, the lesson focused on Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. EthicsDaily.com's search engine led me to both columns and sermons a propos to my preparation.
In particular, I found a sermon by fellow board member Wendell Griffen that I was tempted to read in toto to the class.
Instead, I used it as a springboard for meaningful discussion. Wendell talked about how we tend to live our Christian lives using buckets of water based on our culture, tradition or something else, instead of the endless water from the artesian well that Jesus offers. Thoughtful, challenging ideas.
The Baptist Center for Ethics and EthicsDaily.com have been around for more than 20 years, and it's hard to believe it has taken me so long to find this resource for teaching.
I enjoy Bible teaching, and as so many have said, I always learn more than I am able to impart.
I've been teaching Sunday school since I was a teenager in the '50s. When I was younger, I felt there had to be an answer to every question, but the older I get, the more I realize that some questions have no answers, especially not pat ones.
So part of my "never enough" has been to learn to walk with God, trusting in God's faithfulness and being grateful to those – from EthicsDaily.com and elsewhere – who shed additional light along the path.
Sara Powell is on the board of directors of the Baptist Center for Ethics, a freelance writer and former moderator of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia. She and her husband, Bill, live in Hartwell, Ga. Visit her website at LiftYourHeart.com.