We were having dinner last night and got to talking about teaching the kids at Church School and the various experiences I’ve encountered. At some point, a friend who was sitting next to me said: “wow, it must be really hard… I mean, you need to be able to think on your feet!” and I was like… “true!”
The prime example happened that very morning when one of the kids in class, a little boy barely 3 years old, determinedly informed me that he has found something really interesting that I need to see and returns from the other room with a big globe in his hand, telling me (still with extreme determination while shoving the globe to my hands): “This is what I’ve been telling you about. Take it!” And that is how I had to rebuild my lesson plan for the day in roughly 10 seconds.
Of course I could’ve chosen to ignore him, let his dad (who was standing a few meters behind me anyway) grab the globe off him, or to simply say “that’s wonderful, now let’s get back to our lesson today!” except that if I chose to do that, I would’ve lost this kid’s trust and attention, along with everyone else’s attention as the globe being shoved to me has pretty much captivated everyone. Some little side lesson for people working with children — 1. a big ball always spells f-u-n, and 2. when you have gotten everybody to focus on one thing, use that thing to move forward instead of trying to distract them from it and getting them to focus on something else.
So I had no choice but to take the globe in my hand. “Thank you,” I said to the little boy who happily ran over to his dad. I had seven kids staring at the globe in my hand. It’s make or break. I noticed a boy who was new and went to ask him, “so where do your parents come from?” this worked because at our very international church, everybody was from a different country. I soon got the kids engaged in trying to find the different countries on the globe, and then started singing “He’s got the whole world” (there’s a side story to that with regards to being gender inclusive but let’s keep it at this for the moment) and linked it to how good God is, taking care of all of us little ones… and then I moved into telling them the story of how God took care of the Israelites — the story of Moses that I was supposed to tell them this week according to our actual curriculum book. I am fairly confident that nobody would’ve guessed that I have just made all those connections right then and there, as I was speaking them.
The question is… how did I do THAT? No doubt experience has some parts to play in it — after all, I’ve been doing this since I was 14 — but there was no way I could’ve done it on my own. No, no, no… I don’t care what arguments you give about how the brain when properly stimulated is capable of great creativity etc., there was no way that on my own I could’ve chosen the right words to be able to link one part to the other without pausing. And it’s not just this Sunday morning that this happened. There have been more examples, it happens quite a lot: words flow and making logical sense and connection as I speak them despite it being impromptu. One of my favourite moment was when I was preaching, holding my complete sermon in hand and yet as I spoke new ideas came up and were miraculously woven into my sentences. I had diverted from my notes but it actually made a better sermon!
My answer as to how things like this are possible is this verse from Luke 12:12, taken a little bit out of context (although I could make a good case of how having to teach a bunch of hyperactive kids or to preach to at least 600 congregants on a Sunday morning is almost like being brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities — see Luke 12:11) and yet making perfect sense:
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said (NLT).
When these little “miracles” happen, I am reminded that it is indeed not I who am speaking to these kids or to the congregation, but God.