Life as a Sunday School teacher brings giggles, challenges, blessings

Blessed are the Sunday School teachers, especially those who work with preschoolers: for when they have answered 5,000 questions and fed everyone a snack, they shall emerge with great joy and sticky hands.

My small church’s preschool Sunday School leader, Abigail, is on maternity leave and I, even I, am filling in for her. In other words, I am taking a course in Sunday School Teacher Appreciation.

This is a tough job.

This is a tough job. I still haven’t figured out how Abigail, a born Good Sunday School Teacher, manages to keep nine kids ages 6 and younger focused. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Good Sunday School Teacher: And so, Noah took all the animals onto the ark.

Child: My neighbor has an iguana.

Good Sunday School Teacher: That’s wonderful! There were iguanas on the ark! What other animals were there?

When I’m the teacher, it goes more like this:

Me: And so Noah took all the animals onto the ark.

Child: My neighbor has an iguana.

Me (completely thrown off): Ah, yes, well …

Child 2: Iguanas look like dinosaurs! I have a T-Rex at home!

Me: Well, that doesn’t really have anything to do with …

Child 3: I have to go to the bathroom!

Me: Can you wait a few minutes …

Child 4: Why aren’t there unicorns in that picture? Didn’t they take the unicorns onto the ark? Can we have a snack now?

I’m learning to be more patient.

But I’m learning to be more patient, and to creatively reel things back in when necessary. A recent example:

Me, to a child who is supposed to be drawing the sixth day of creation (when God made animals and man): Perry, this looks great! Which animals are these?

Perry: Those are Legos.

Me: Oh. They look like animals. And what’s this?

Perry: It’s Adam.

Me, seeing a chance to put things back on track: Oh, he looks wonderful. I love your Adam!

Perry: Yes. He’s a Lego Adam.

Point to Perry.

Here’s another fun one.

Me: Who can tell me the name of the first book of the Bible?

Pennie (with a big smile and complete confidence): Jesus!

But in-between the bunny trails and the potty breaks and the requests for “the Sunday school song about Ariel,” there are victories.

It’s truly wonderful to hear a tiny voice recite scripture. Our question and answer times constantly surprise me … even the smallest can remember details of our lesson. And prayer time is a joy … especially when these sweet babies pray for one another or when they recap the lesson in prayer: “And Lord, thank you for Abraham and Sarah and that they were old and they had a baby.” Or the way one little guy words his prayers, prefacing each request with “I hope” … as in, “I hope my mommy feels better soon. I hope we have a good day at Sunday School.” He’s right: A prayer is a hope we entrust to God.

Little by little, these children  are growing in knowledge of the Holy One.

Little by little, these children are growing in knowledge of the Holy One. Most of the work is their parents’, but I’m so blessed I get to help foster truths they are learning at home. And I’m so privileged to be able to show them a little sliver of the love God has for them.   

Maybe, being a Sunday School teacher is its own reward.

Just kidding, there’s no way Sunday School teachers don’t cash in when they get to heaven. I’m talking crowns on crowns, y’all.