I thought of a good metaphor.
When we see teaching program after teaching program, it reminds me of something that happens in our home.
With the old manuals, there was an issue of people thinking that they couldn’t stray from them, and at times this meant that people were not seeking the Spirit when they prepared. So, ta-da!, we have new manuals with more options that you can do, so you have to make some decisions and most likely that means you will pray about what to teach.
This reminds me of the sight of a pile of jackets and shoes on the floor, not put away where they should be. I remind and remind, until finally I decide to come up with a new system. New hooks! Shoe shelf! Everything seems tidy and in its place. And, everyone seems on board with the new program, so things stay much cleaner that unusual for several weeks! Success.
But of course, the new program gets old, and it’s still work to pick up your jackets and shoes and put them away. No matter what program I come up with, it’s still work to clean up. It’s easy to leave them out when we are busy, or preoccupied with the next thing we want to do. So unless someone decides they are going to do that work, or even to figure out how to remind themselves to do it, the jackets and shoes will still be all over the floor.
Teaching programs are much the same, I think. The Spirit is supposed to guide our teaching. We remind and remind and remind, but we worry that it isn’t happening. So, we come up with a new program! It is tidier, it has new ways of organizing our thoughts on teaching. It involves people in new ways. And it works! Excitement! And even prayer. The Spirit, hopefully, is more present in our lessons.
But, then, the program gets old. The hype is gone. And we are still left with the same question: Are we, as teachers, willing to do the work to listen to the Spirit? To learn how to remind ourselves to figure out how to recognize the Spirit? Are we going to do that even when we are busy or preoccupied with other things?
The vision of teaching by the Spirit has to be opened to each person individually, I think. A program, and request, a new manual all might help keep things tidier, and may even allow a lot of good to happen, but it isn’t at the heart a conversion to teaching by the Spirit. And while there are ways to imitate good teachers, being a good teacher can only happen by learning to hear and yield to the voice of the Holy Spirit.