The why and the why not

In the next few days I will be ordering books for our winter session of Bible study. I’d be curious to know exactly how many studies I’ve facilitated. I once counted up but that was four or five years ago so the total, even if I could remember, would be off by ten or twelve at least.

Some of the studies I remember with great clarity. In other words, they rocked my world. Studies like Seeking Him and Surrender, just to name a couple. Other studies are also clear in my mind but for less remarkable reasons…

As near as I can figure, I’ve been sitting the teacher’s chair in some form or another for over ten years, probably closer to twelve. I was wondering today: why? Why me? And why for so long? As I think on it, there are several reasons why I’ve wanted to quit and perhaps would even have been justified in doing so…

1. I have no idea what I’m doing. Really, I don’t. Anyone who thinks I have this thing all together either doesn’t know me very well or is seriously deluded. I am the least qualified and the biggest mess. Nearly every week as I’m headed out the door on my way to our meeting I can’t but help but wonder if this will be the week my hypocrisy is exposed.

2. Over the course of ten or twelve years and unnumbered studies, there have (of course) been those instances where only one or two ladies come and even been a couple where no one showed up at all. I can’t tell you how discouraging it is to research and prepare only to feel as if it was all in vain! I understand inevitable conflicts, don’t get me wrong. I totally get that sometimes there are other priorities that must take precedence. I’m not saying I expect perfect attendance nor that no excuse is acceptable. I’m merely speaking to the frustration that sometimes comes with dwindling attendance. Sometimes it’s easy to think that maybe if I were doing everything right more people would come rather than less.

3. Research and preparation take time and, let’s face it, time is precious. If I’m getting ready for Bible study then I’m not, say, cleaning house or accomplishing any of the other multitude of necessary and worthy pursuits that vie for my time and energy.

4. Sometimes I just grow weary. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is teach Bible study. Sometimes I want to sit in the back with my mouth shut. Sometimes I just don’t want to be the teacher.

Some legitimate, some not so much, but all are reasons I’ve considered from time to time in my teaching journey. With such temptation to lay it all down, what keeps me going? Why teach if I’m not only unqualified, but I don’t really have time and sometimes it feels like only a few even care anyway? A few reasons why…

1. I can’t not do it. I don’t really know why, exactly, just that that is the way it is. I began teaching out of a need in my own life and I need it still. It wasn’t so much a holy calling; it was (and is) a holy desperation.

2. The time spent in research and preparation results in far more than mere research and preparation. The task can get in the way of the goal but ultimately I’m not just after five or so pages of neatly typed notes. Over and above mere lesson prep, I find God Himself, He who promises that as I seek Him with my whole heart, He will be found. As I discipline myself to the study of His living Word, I discover the riches of the glory of God in the face of Christ. He speaks and I see His glory, there, in my Bible. Who can get over that? It’s amazing. It’s humbling. It’s profound. It’s worth laying aside all other pursuits. It makes me long for more! What grace! What glory!

3. One or two women who come to Bible study are one or two women who are coming to Bible study and that’s not only enough, it’s exciting! I am ashamed of my pride that has regarded a group of “only” one or two as unworthy of my time and effort. It’s embarrassing for me to admit but I remember quite clearly a Sunday afternoon Bible study class I was facilitating. On one particular Sunday only two students came to class so I just didn’t teach. I was disappointed no one “else” came so we didn’t have class. Can you believe it? I can’t. The memory of it fills me with such shame still though it was probably six or seven years ago, if not longer. I was essentially saying to those two young women that they weren’t worth it to me. How the Lord has humbled me through that experience. May I never despise the two or three who meet in His name; may I instead realize His gracious condescension to me, to the women in the class, to all who long to know Him in the pages of His Word. I do not deserve His grace and I cannot, I must not, withhold it.

So, there it is: the why and the why not. Glory to God, His ways are not our ways and His paths are beyond figuring out. Maybe it doesn’t make sense for me to persevere in my role as Bible teacher; maybe His call on your life seems equally impractical and unlikely. For us both, I pray that we not grow weary in doing good but remain confident that He will indeed accomplish HIS purposes in us and through us! Glory to His name! Our labor is not in vain; we will reap a great harvest for His kingdom’s glory if we do not give up but persevere, steadfast and immovable!

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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

8 thoughts on “The why and the why not”

  1. Okay, friend, seriously? My brain is crowded enough without you being in it too! Wow. You know what I’m going to say. You said it. And graciously too. May He complete this amazing work He began, on no merits of our own. And I can’t wait for the day to hug you in person and declare His Name glorious!

  2. I love the reading/researching/studying/writing side of Bible study, too. I don’t teach, though. Well, I don’t teach grown women; I teach 5 and 6-year-olds. I think I’d love teaching women. I just haven’t tried it very many times.

    When we were part of a church plant, our pastor decided that he wouldn’t preach his message that day because there weren’t enough people in the crowd. He actually told us that he didn’t want to waste all his work on just us (probably about 15 people). He didn’t last long as a pastor. I don’t know if he learned anything from that experience, but I’m glad you did.

  3. I really, really appreciated hearing all of this. It’s good to hear this from the teacher’s perspective. The most I’ve ever done is teach children’s church and I did that many years ago. The best (and my most favorite) study we did was Gleanings from Joshua which I adapted for ages 3-7! It was so impacting that I decided back then that I would name any son of mine Joshua with good reason.

    Now, on the flip side, I’m in a stage of life where I would attend classes. And I have to admit it’s hard to commit to it because 1. I don’t want to disappoint a teacher who I KNOW is putting in time and energy and sometimes meets with my enthusiasm and sometimes my weariness. And 2. well, just life.

    The why and the why not. It’s beneficial. It’s hard work. I don’t always do it well.

  4. Your new blog looks great. I hope you enjoy the switch to wordpress. I have been (physically) moving, so needless to say….off line for quite sometime. Looking forward to catching up on your posts soon!

  5. You love God, you love His Word, you love His people — that makes you a great fit! It’s evident on your blog and I’m sure it’s evident as you lead Bible studies. Your honesty in this post and your clear desire to follow God’s plan is such an encouragement. (P.S. Wish I could join one of your studies!)

  6. Hi Lisa! This is my first time to your blog and as I read your post I couldn’t help but leave a comment. I’ve been leading our ladies Bible study for a few years now and can really relate to everything you said. I consider teaching God’s Word a huge privilege but also a huge responsiblity. I’m ultimately accountable to Him for what I teach. For many of the reasons you listed, I’ve learned much about my own heart and attitude over the last few years. God has humbled me and caused me to lean totally on Him and trust in the truth of His Word. I just want to encourage you to continue to submit to His will and allow Him to use you as you share His truths with the ladies He brings your way.

  7. Lisa,

    I am so blessed by this post, I can’t even tell you. I was encouraged to start a women’s Bible study this next month, and I am super nervous. My ministry has always been geared towards children, so it is a bit new for me. I do love women, though, so have felt like this is an area where God may want to work on me. I have been thinking, “What if no one shows up?” I also begged a friend of mine to come so at least one person would be there. 🙂 You have beautifully stated why big numbers are not important, but a big heart that desires to follow His calling is. He will work out all the details when we follow Him. You are a beautiful woman of God and those ladies -be it 2 or 200- are blessed to have you guiding them!

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