August 14th, 2012 by Kristi Stephens
It’s back-to-school time. In some areas of the country your kids have already boarded the bus, backpack and lunchbox in tow. Or perhaps you’re a homeschooler, shelves sagging under the weight of shiny new curriculum. Possibly you’re a teacher stapling up wavy corrugated bulletin board trim, immersed in the final throws of preparation before the blur of the school year engulfs you yet again. Or maybe, a ministry leader in final stages of putting together the ministry year, finalizing Bible studies, planning events.
As a former teacher, a ministry leader, a homeschooler, a part of me seems to fit into all of those categories. In all of those roles I have longed for those I taught to be transformed by exposure to God’s Word. This Sunday we read through this passage in our ABF and the familiar words resonated with me.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
John 4:39- 42
There appears to be a process of faith in process in the Samaritan’s hearts. They were first drawn to Jesus through the woman’s testimony of her own encounter with Him. She discovered the truth of who He was, and she shared it with them in a compelling way. But it didn’t stop there. It couldn’t stop there. What she told them intrigued them, and they believed it enough to go to Jesus and beg Him to stay with them. They didn’t want to just keep hearing the woman’s story over and over. They wanted Jesus Himself.
Their faith had to be deeply planted in their own hearts through their own interactions with Him.
It struck me anew as we read this that this is our mission - to make it not about us.
No matter how well-written the Bible curriculum is, no matter what homeschooling method you have chosen to follow, no matter what school your kids are enrolled in, no matter what compelling, amazing, stunning, and well-articulated words you use, the goal is more than to tell and fill their heads with knowledge.
The goal is for them to see Him, hear Him, and choose to believe that He is all we claimed He is and more. Jesus isn’t going to ask our children, “who did your parents say that I am?” Or, “who did your Bible teacher say that I am?” Or, “who did your youth leader say that I am?”
The question is – “who do YOU say that I am?”
I can drill truth into my kids every single day of this year. But will it transform them, or simply fill up their heads with knowledge?
Have I prayed as fervently and carefully as I have planned?
Am I begging God to reveal Himself to my kids and even to the women in my church in a powerful way this year, to grow their faith into something real and personal and vibrant?
Do I really believe it’s all about Him? Or do I, deep down, still think it’s all about me?
Never underestimate how God can work in the lives of those you might teach. The goal is not for them to be drawn to your words and want to be like you. The goal is for them to be drawn to Jesus and to long to be like Him.
Yes, tell your story. Yes, find great curriculum that teaches truth and then teach it well. Yes, help them learn to understand, to think and reason Biblically, to recognize error. But may we never lead them to ourselves. May we lead them to Jesus and immerse them in His Word, and then step out of the way and allow their own personal encounters with Him to utterly transform their lives.
May our kids, our students, the people we disciple someday tell us – “we no longer believe because of what you said.” May it be more and more about Him, and less and less about us.