13 Things to Try When You're in a Teaching Funk
Have you ever been in a teaching funk? Most teachers have, and it feels like I'm in one now! I love teaching God’s word and I am fortunate enough to be the primary teacher in our junior high ministry. Like most pastors, I'm critical of my own teaching. Not because I want to be perfect—there was only one guy who was perfect, and we don't need another. I'm critical because I really love what I'm teaching and I know I'm not teaching moral living or the thoughts of a good teacher. I'm teaching lessons from God himself. His eternal plan for a fallen world is one that we need to share, not keep quiet or be jealous over—like Jonah. God’s word is serious, life-changing stuff. It's not a joke, it's not a part time thing, and it's not a stepping stone to something better. Taking on the role of teacher is something that we will be judged very harshly on. Instead of running from that truth, I press into it in order to improve. You may be the same as me, always striving to get better and connect the truth of Jesus to people.
Because of the funk I am in right now, I am looking at thirteen different things to help get me out of it.
1. Admit you have a problem. Well, maybe it’s not a problem, but if you're feeling like you’re in a struggling season, talk to someone about it. Talk to your supervisor, other pastors in town, or people whom you network with and have community with. Don't sit in your office and stress over it, but instead, reach out to others who can encourage you and help.
2. Mentors. Do you have one? Do you have someone who has gone through the
same things as you? This isn't just a teaching thing; this is a leader thing. Every good leader has to be mentored by someone with more time, experience, and wisdom.
3. Time alone with God. Are you getting filled up or are you just pouring out into others? Are you connecting with your Savior or just teaching about him? This may sound like a soft question, but it’s not. If you’re not with God, then you can't know God. If you don't know him, you can't teach others about him. You can fake it for awhile, but that will eventually fail.
4. Content. Do you believe in what you are teaching? Whether it be curriculum that you're teaching, or following the church teaching schedule. Are you being told what to write or writing your own content? Think over if you’re having a writers block or if you need better prep. In the end, if you don't believe in the content than something needs to change
5. Prayer and Fasting. When was the last time you did this? Take a day and worry about one thing: connecting with Jesus. Go to Jesus in a few different ways and really connect with his heart as your God, his heart for you as a teacher, and as his son or daughter.
6. Read a book. Someone suggested that I read a book on teaching. I have to be honest: I have been in the same books for a while, and I haven’t read anything new. I'm going to get a new book this week to read from a different voice. Great idea, and one we don't think of that often.
7. Take a break. If you have the ability to take a few weeks off of teaching to re-focus, get your passion back in some ways, get your head and heart right with God, then do it! Some love being the upfront guy too much to take a break, but unless you have people you are equipping to be a great teachers too, you are not doing the best for your ministry.
8. Your writing process. How are you writing and preparing for a lesson? Do you use an outline that you learned in college? Did you steal the style of a pastor you like? Really think over the process that you use, how you write, and where you could tweak it to get new outcomes.
9. In a routine. There are good routines and there are bad ones- ones that limit you, hold you back and squelch creativity. These are routines that you may want to re-think. Ask around for what works for other pastors and see if you can make some changes to your own routine. There is NOTHING wrong with a good routine, but when you are shackled by it, then it’s time to re-assess
10. Try something new. Maybe for you, trying something new means getting off of the stage and breaking that barrier. Maybe you will pull some students in to share their testimony and let students hear from other students. Whatever it is, try something different. Shake it up, and see new results.
11. Trust in the Holy Spirit. When you are down on yourself, know this: The Holy Spirit will move. Anything that our students get out of our lessons is because the Holy Spirit is at work, so take heart! Our best prepared lessons can fall on deaf ears, and the Holy Spirit can use our worst-prepared messages for amazing things.
12. Ask others. Record your lessons, and ask others to listen and give you feedback. Invite them to your room when you're teaching so they can give great feedback too. Don't feel it’s week to ask others; don't think that they're really thinking in their mind how much better they are than you, because they won't be. Just get others who are willing to hear and speak quality into your life.
13. Don't compare. When I was at Catalyst West, Jon Acuff said "Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle." I get the opportunity to work at a great influential church with many world-class pastors and teachers. It makes it easy to compare yourself to others, you try to do your ministry while imitating other pastor styles and try to emulate their ministry. "Be you" is the lesson I got from Evan Gratz, one of the pastors on staff. Just be you. That's a lesson that I'm still learning, but I know it's one we as pastors share. This is a little clip from Matt Chandler that really brings this point out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhFOkuQ3uvA.
I want to hear your ideas. Connect with me and share or leave a comment at the bottom of this post.
Teaching is important and we can all get better together.