When I was in college, I had a stellar accounting professor. The man knew his stuff, and he communicated well enough and in an interesting enough manner that I, someone who could not care less about the workings of the business world, remained engaged the entire semester. Even though I still remember how effective of a teacher he was, I don’t remember a single thing he taught me.
Despite that professor’s competency, that semester under his tutelage didn’t impact my life in any meaningful way. I had no passion for business, and I had no business being in that class at that university. God had other plans for my life.
I followed my passion for the Bible to a Liberal Arts college down the road and pursued a degree in Biblical Studies and Theology. Those 2.5 years were priceless, and the Lord showed Himself all-powerful just getting me in the doors, not to mention when He got the whole thing paid for, but that’s another story. 😉
Fast-forward to the present, and I find myself at the beginning of what might very well be a lifelong role of “Bible study teacher”. I led my first small group on Thursday. I went into this knowing a few things. 1) I communicate well. Whether spoken or written, I am able to both formulate and articulate my thoughts in an easy-to-understand fashion. While it’s true that I’m not as put-together as I was before I had children (I blame the hormones and the sleep-deprivation), I still seem to be an effective communicator. 2) Striving to understand and apply the Bible is not a chore to me. I enjoy spending time with that book. 3) God desires to combine my communication skills with my affinity for the Bible in order to make the truth about Himself known to others.
But the most important thing I know is this: no matter how competent I might be, no Bible study I teach will impact anyone in any meaningful way unless the Lord is in it. In my own strength, I’m pretty confident I can put together a lesson that will engage my group. In my own strength, I’m pretty confident I can pull out timely Bible verses and explain their meanings and modern day applications. But one thing I can’t do is make Scripture resonate in people’s hearts in a way that will move them toward God. That is a supernatural occurrence. God grows souls, not me. I can do my best to set the stage, but the Lord is the show.
That being said, Thursday went well. I suppose there were a lot of reasons for me to be nervous, including the facts that the Director of Women’s Ministry, the wife of the Senior Pastor, and two other women in leadership were all in my group. But I wasn’t too worked up about it. Something I was concerned about was that the group of women felt like the time they spent in my group was worth it. When they left, I wanted them to feel like they had taken a step further in their understanding of and their intimacy with the Father. After all, that’s the entire point of Bible study. And so I pray to that end because I can’t manufacture that kind of intimacy for them, no matter how bright and shiny my lesson is. They have to be open to God supernaturally engaging their hearts. And if they are willing, He will.
All I can do is set the stage. The Lord is the show.