Getting Your Feet Wet
I am not a swimmer. If a life were in danger or if my doctor so ordered I suppose I could swim well enough. Generally, though, swimming is just not my thing – and I have a litany of reasons:
- I am so near-sighted that, without my glasses, I can barely see how many toes I have. In the water, I would have to wear contacts and goggles—expense and inconvenience for a lady who wears trifocals.
- I dread the first moments of coldness.
- I don’t like water being splashed in my face. Between seeing everyone as a blur and this admittedly weird pet peeve, being in a pool with a bunch of people is not an enjoyable experience for me.
- Outside . . . bugs! Mosquitoes eat me alive, wasps scare me, and the rest are unnerving.
- Mainly, I’m just not good at it!
Nevertheless, I often recommend swimming because I am convinced that it is one of the best exercises and stress-relievers. I believe in the benefits of swimming, but I don’t swim. I’m sure I could, and maybe someday I will push past all my excuses and learn to enjoy it, but for now, I’m just not a swimmer.
Perhaps you have similar feelings about teaching God’s Word. You believe that you and other women would grow spiritually if you led a Bible study group, but you typically encourage others to take such leadership roles. Or, maybe you’ve decided that Bible-teaching is just not your thing – and you have a litany of reasons:
- You’re barely able to maintain your own quiet time, much less any personal Bible study. To teach, you would have to dig deep and spend time preparing – you really can’t afford to make that commitment.
- You dread having to meet and invest in new people.
- You don’t like being put on the spot. Between knowing that you don’t know enough and your fear of being embarrassed, the idea of leading a Bible study is not appealing.
- Outside the church . . . definitely not! The backbiters will eat you alive, the bookworms scare you, and the rest of the women whose experiences you can’t relate to are downright unnerving.
- Mainly, you couldn’t possibly be good at it!
True enough, swimming isn’t for everybody and neither is teaching the Bible (1 Cor. 12:29). Those who teach are held to a higher standard (James 3:1), so teaching is not a ministry to be undertaken lightly. Unlike swimming, though, Jesus has commissioned every follower to “make disciples . . . teaching them” to obey Him (Matt. 28:19-20). When lives are at stake (and they are) or when the Master so orders (and He will), may every follower of Jesus willingly teach as His Spirit leads!
When the Lord directs you to teach His Word, perhaps this acrostic will help you overcome any reluctance to “get your feet wet” as a Bible study leader.
Begin with prayer.
When you dare to teach God’s Word, you are stepping onto a battleground with sword drawn. The metaphor is closer to reality than you might imagine (see Eph. 6:10-18). To proceed only as directed by the Holy Spirit, you must stay in communication with the Lord, submit your ideas and plans to His, and depend on Him for everything.
Ask the Lord to show you whom to teach, when to do that, and how to proceed. Is He burdening your heart for a particular age group? Does He bring to mind a certain coworker or relative? Has He made you aware of the women you have met or could meet in your neighborhood or other circles of acquaintance? Has He drawn you to a certain topic, concern, or question? Is He leading you to read or study a particular book of the Bible?
Whenever you meet with the Lord on your own or with others to read and/or study His Word, begin by praying for Him to teach you – to give you understanding and wisdom; to guide you in faithfully obeying and applying His Word; to help you see others through His eyes and respond to them with His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness; to give you discernment to distinguish between truth and lies; to encourage and strengthen you as you act on and proclaim His truth.
Invite your friends and family to pray for you and the Lord’s direction as His teaching assignment for you unfolds. When He answers your prayer about whom to teach, prayerfully take the initiative to invite those individuals to join you in reading and/or studying God’s Word. Sometimes you will have to be patient, persistent, creative, or flexible. You will always have to be purposeful, caring, faithful, and real.
Invest in the person(s) who respond. Practice sharing your testimony and presenting the gospel in everyday language in order to be as prepared as possible for opportunities to invite someone to repent of their sin, receive salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, and follow Him.
Get to know the people you are teaching or leading. Find common ground. Be vulnerable. Be a friend to the women you are serving. Find ways to show that you genuinely care about them. When they trust you they will listen to you.
Read the Scriptures aloud. Work together to list observations about what a particular passage actually says. Help each other draw conclusions (i.e., interpretations) that are clearly based on this “evidence” you gathered as a detective team. Model a teachable attitude. Then push each other to consider how the Lord wants what you’ve learned to be worked out in your lives and hold each other accountable to follow through.
Expect . . .
. . . God to speak through His Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
. . . the Holy Spirit to convict of sin (John 16:8).
. . . to see brokenness, revival, and transformation as well as
rebellion, resistance, and opposition (Matt. 10:34; Luke 2:34; I Cor. 1:18-25; 16:8-9).
. . . obstacles, disappointments, and challenges of all kinds – because you have a ruthless
enemy (Luke 8:12; 1 Pet. 5:8).
. . . God to keep all His promises. He has, He does, and He will (2 Cor. 1:20)!
Now, go “get your feet wet”!