Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Question I Was Too Afraid To Ask...

I've wondered about this for a really long time, and have really wanted to post the question to the Precept Leader Board, yet I was too afraid to.

I was afraid I'd look like a slacker, and I think I was desperately afraid of the answers that others would share, thinking that I'd once again feel like I am lacking as a Precept leader, when compared to so many others.

But, some brave soul stepped up recently and asked the question I've been itching to ask, and when I saw it posted to the Precept Leader Yahoo Forum, I knew the Lord wasn't going to let me off the hook.

I knew I was being called to share what was pressing on my heart, so I did. I pray that it somehow encourages you to step out in faith in Christ Jesus, and lead others in inductive Bible study.

This was the question:

How many hours a week do you spend preparing for leading your Precept class, excluding the time dedicated to actually working through the lesson yourself?
(I'm paraphrasing, but this was the gist of it.)

I am not at liberty to share anyone's answer but my here goes, this is what I posted...

I wanted to respond to the question about leader preparation time.

I hope my heart comes through in what I feel led to share, as it's not always easy to express one's heart through email/forum groups.

I am led to share in the hope that it will encourage some of you out there who are not now leading because you don't think you have 10+ hours a week to prepare...or, those of you who may be in the same life situation that I am.

We are a homeschooling family of 2 kids, 8 and 6. While I do not work outside the home, I do have a full time job as a teacher inside my home.

We've also had 18mo-2years of unresolved health issues here, which is time consuming too, besides the fact that my brain doesn't work like it used to (seriously!).

I've battled, often, with deep feelings of inadequacy as a leader, and have made the mistake of telling my class one too many times just how bad of a job I am doing, compared to the great and seasoned Precept leaders I've sat under. (Yes, I've had the best!) :)

Countless times, I've thought about many of you here, whom I respect so much, and in weighing myself next to you, I find I lack deeply.

I don't have the hours that I desire to have, to study commentaries, and I don't have them on hand even if I wanted to.

I don't have LOGOS or a laptop computer.
I am blessed to have Zodhiates and Vines, and I have Wuest but cannot remember how to use it.

We don't do charts in my class, even though I feel my students could benefit from them. I am trying to follow the new model that Precept has laid down for us, and use minimal visual aides...which is good because the charts intimidate me.

As much as I can right now, I rise early or stay up late to study...but it never, ever seems enough.

I have seen my classes start out with 25 people, and dwindle to 8...more often than not.

I often wonder when the Lord will send the real Precept leader to lead this class, so that I may sit under him or her and soak it up like a sponge. Yet, in 5 years, He hasn't yet chosen to do that.
I've been blessed to see others answer the call to lead, and oh what a blessing that is, yet they haven't taken over "my" class...they've multiplied, and are now leading their own separate classes, and many of them feel as inadequate as I do.

However, through it all the Lord has shown me some rich and humbling things through this journey as a leader....

1. It's His desire for people to learn to study His Word for themselves, and all He asks me is if I'll be obedient. He doesn't ask me to be spectacular, as much as I'd love to be.
(Oh, how I'd love to be!)

2. He knows my heart...that I never feel I have spent adequate time in study, yet He never fails to do the work in the hearts of those students who are willing to sit at His feet and dig in. And He has always been faithful to teach and grow me in the process. :)

3. I'm not to tell my students anymore how bad I am at this. Even in doing that, I am taking the focus off of Him and putting it on me.

4. There are not a lot of leaders that I've met, who are my age. I hope and pray for more and more leaders in my age group, and younger. In order for that to happen, I have to model for them that they really can do this...and make it work with where they are in their lives. It cannot seem an impossible task, or they may not be willing to answer the call.

5. At the onset, I started leading because I kept being asked by other people if I could show them how to study the way that I do...if I can keep that as my focus, just teaching them what I've been taught...just passing this awesome gift to them...then I believe I'll have been obedient to my Master.

I was talking with one of the ladies from our Kings & Prophets study a few months ago, a woman in leadership over me within my church, and telling her how sorry I was that I had done such a poor job...what with health issues and a weak background in the OT.

She looked me square in the eyes and said, "Precept has changed my life!"

Wow! Thank You, Lord! Thank You, thank You!

Today as I laid having an EEG, with wires and gunk all over my head, I listened to the familiar accent coming from the sweet lady who was doing the testing on me.

Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore..I had to ask...

"Are you from Romania?"

"Yes. Romania." she answered.

Oooh...(My heart's desire is to one day go to Precept's training center there, and see first hand what God has done through the faithful work of a few obedient servants.)

"I have friends from Romania." (I've met Mia and Costel once, but as far as I'm concerned, we're lifelong friends!) :)

"From Romania?" she asked.

"Yes, they have a Bible training center there."

To which she opened up and told me that she is a Christian.

"Oh, do you know Mia and Costel Oglice?" (Why I feel compelled to ask this every single time I meet someone from Romania is because Mia and Costel are my Brother George Muellers.)

"Yes. Yes. They trained my husband in inductive study, when Romania was still a communist country. They trained him underground. He is now a youth pastor at a Romanian church here in Phoenix."

I kid you not when I tell you that this is about the 3rd person I've met in Phoenix who is from there and was trained in Romania by Mia and Costel!

Each time the Lord orchestrates another meeting with a fellow believer like this, He reminds me again of all that He can accomplish through faithful and obedient servants.

(For blog readers who aren't familiar with them, Mia and Costel and their team have been used of the Lord to train thousands upon thousands of people in how to study the Bible for themselves. There is an Bible training center in Romania where much of their work takes place. You can see it by clicking here.)

I know it's been long, but I pray that some of you who have been holding back because you don't have hours and hours to prepare, will be encouraged just to put some people in your hip pocket and take them along with you as you dig into God's Word.

Give them what you've been given, and trust the Lord to do the work in their hearts that He wants to do.

If they outgrow you as a teacher, great...get them trained to lead! :)


pam gillaspie said...

Beautifully, beautifully said!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jes!

I love this post! Okay, when I read your wish about wanting younger leaders, I smiled! That's because you are raising up Caedmon and Brennan in Precepts! Hang on just a few more years and you'll see some really young leaders!

Also, I loved what you said about how complaining about the job you do/don't do takes the focus off God and puts it on you. I never thought about that before.

I also want to tell you that every Bible study I have ever been to starts with a lot of people and then drops off. Every single one. It has nothing to do with the teaching (because the Holy Spirit is the teacher).

Thank you for your words. I think if you always felt "studied up", you might have the tendency to rely on Jesica instead of the Holy Spirit. I just read a quote today that had this phrase in it: "Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention." Good huh?


Laura said...

Sweetest Jes,
You know as I read this post my heart aches for you. I love you to pieces and I know you have had such a struggle with doubting you incredible gift as a teacher.

As one who has been your student and is now a trained leader, please know it is only because of YOU that I was introduced to inductive study through Precept Ministries and OH... how it has CHANGED MY LIFE!

Now, as to why I am not leading a class I can not truly say other than I feel it too daunting a task to put myself out as a target for the enemy (as I know he wants nothing more than to destroy and devour those that belong to Christ and those who teach are the biggest threat to him.)

As I read these words I have written here I realize my "fear" can be nothing compared to what Christ felt in the garden of Gethsemane while waiting to be arrested and led away to die FOR ME.

I would ask for your prayers for me to be able to die to this fear through Christ and joyfully accept the next time my Wednesday ladies class is asking for someone to lead a study. If it takes something as dramatic as the Spirit to poke me in the behind so I'll get out of my chair... BRING IT ON! There are precious women who have been in church their whole lives who have never been taught to study the Word inductively and I must share that gift with them.

God bless you, my sweet friend. I love you. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Dear Jes and Laura:

Here is a quote I picked up, and everytime I read it, something new jumps out at me. I wanted to pass it your way in hopes you, Laura, and anyone else reading, can use it for encouragement. I want to be courageous and adventuresome like the author describes in the quote, but I realize I'm most like the first sentence instead.

"Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Grab life by the mane. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. Chase the lion."
- Mark Batterson

I want to chase the lion and be everything God has called me to be. There are times I too am my own worst enemy and I must STOP! Jesus gave me very explicit instructions:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations, BAPTIZING them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and TEACHING them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Mt. 28:18-20

Laura, somebody told me that if God has given you the spiritual gift of teaching, one way you can know you have it is if everytime you learn something new for yourself, you can't wait to pass it on to someone else! If that is you - if God has given you that gift - then Sister I urge you to not let that flame burn out!

I reach out to you and Jesica both through this post as if laying my hands on you to remind you of Paul's words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6-7:

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

I want to close by sharing one more scripture with you and Jesica from 2 Corinthians 3:6 that I hope will minister to you like it did to me. I pray that it will refresh your thinking and remind you that as a believer in Christ, we are all compentent as ministers of a new convenant!

"Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant - not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."


Susan said...

You and I have never met, but as one Precept Leader to another, I have to tell you how this post blessed and encouraged me. Thank you for sharing your heart!

Deb said...

I want to tell you that I am blessed and find myself very thankful to God for your blog that I came across last year. God has used your blog greatly in my life, also through some of the blogs I have come across via your blog. Now, this is not all about you (I know that you wouldn’t want that, me either), but He has used you by “just being there”. As you know, I have entered the world of Precept Ministries…what a wonderful ministry and a perfect method of study… because of your blog. I haven’t started yet, but I look forward to God leading me to start a “40 minute” …nope-no charts … Precept group here in my community. Also, I was recently richly blessed by attending the Precept Women’s Conference where God really added to the area of faith & trust in my relationship with Him.

You had written a blog post recently, actually I went back to look-Sat. May 16, 09 “Thoughts on My Ministry” about ministering right where you are and being in the time of life that you are with small children, home schooling and desiring to have healthy meals on the table for your family, and sharing with the ones who come and go.

I encourage you just to “be where God has you” and as you walk making the most of every opportunity and from the sounds of it you already do. Don’t be overwhelmed with things “to do” like leading bible studies with HUGE maps and other visuals, although not saying you shouldn’t. I feel quite sure that you did a very good job at leading. 

All I want to say is that I give God thanks for you being there @ “What I Learned From The Word Today”.

Bless you dear, and I pray there is good news around the corner for you regarding your sickness. As I wrote that I thought, really, if/since we are walking with the God of the Universe who loves us so very much, how can there actually be any bad news…anyway... We know that know that God has used “bad news events” in our lives for His good and glory and as an opportunity to draw us closer to Him and for that reason I am and will forever be grateful. He has us, His children exactly where we are at this very minute.

Rest my sister, and wait on Lord…

Isaiah 40:31 NAS Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Thanks again for being just where you are, a blessing to me, and I am sure many others, right there in front of your computer using the mind and heart God gave you!

SharonB said...

I will be trained to lead next month and plan on leading my first PUP in the fall. This was such an encouragement to me. Thank you.