Few creatures are as vicious and unpredictable as the human teenage female. While homeschooling can offset some of the stereotypical teenage behavior issues, it is not a magic bullet, nor does it negate normal human crappiness. As my youngest was entering the high school class in our homeschool co-op, I was disheartened by the goings on in her peer group. There were friendships that had imploded, hormonal angst ran rampant, and just plain mean-girl shenanigans were happening.
About that time, as we were planning for the fall term of our co-op, a book came across my radar called, We Saved You a Seat. It was a video series/workbook study that delved into what biblical friendship looks like and how we can better live in community as women.
Now, my place in our homeschool group has long been cemented as a facilitator of discussion and learning amongst the mamas. I have never been, nor have I ever desired to be, a youth leader. I’ve always been perfectly content to share the things I’m learning with the mamas, lead discussions, and just generally schmooze. I’m weirdly good at it.
But my girls had a need, so I asked to be allowed to lead both the moms, and the teen girls (separately) through this video series and book. Our normal policy for leading the teen discipleship classes is that you not have a teen of your own in the class. I had two, but I laid out my vision and then begged just a bit, and landed the gig.
The moms were a bit lukewarm about the material, but the teens…that was another story altogether. They grabbed onto the wisdom in this book like a lifeline. Discussion times brought insight, tears, and healing. By the end of the term, I saw decimated friendships totally restored. I witnessed truly repentant young women humbly seeking forgiveness, and giving it freely. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever been a part of.
During the break before our spring term, I was feeling the desire to continue with these girls. What I really wanted to do was teach them how to study the Bible themselves using a method I had been taught by a dear friend. It’s called the COMA method, but the basic principle goes by various names and acronyms. It means studying scripture by looking at Context, Observing the text, find the Meaning of the passage (in it’s context), and then praying through its Application. This is college level studying, but I felt strongly that this group of young women could learn it.
There was just one problem. I’m not a ‘teacher’. Or at least that’s how I felt at the time…
I wrestled with this. Then my pastor taught a sermon where he basically said, “Stop calling yourself a ‘facilitator’. If you’re called to teach, then teach. Calling yourself a facilitator is a cop out so you don’t have to take your responsibility seriously.” Ouch. Than a few days later, in a discussion with a friend, I mumbled that I had no idea what my calling was. She practically rolled her eyes at me and emphatically stated, “That’s easy. You’re a teacher.”
So I began teaching this group of a dozen teen girls how to dig into scripture and study it. We began with Philippians. I had studied it before, so it would be pretty easy, I thought. I had no inkling of how different it would be to actually lead a study like this. I had plenty of experience sitting under the teaching of others, but this was something else entirely.
A few weeks into this I attended a women’s retreat with my church. Now those who know me well, know that I’m not a women’s retreat kind of girl. But I had felt compelled to attend, and several doors opened that allowed me to go. The speaker told us of women in the Bible, how they had risen to fulfill their purposes. She culminated this with the call to action. She told us that fulfilling our calling would require courage, and that if we didn’t know what our spiritual gifts were, we needed to find out. She recommended several tests, and my top gifts were consistently discernment, knowledge/wisdom, and teaching. Huh.
She was quite inspiring, and this was starting to feel like a set up. I couldn’t help but laugh at all of the little pieces that my Father was putting into place. But I was sobered when the speaker asked us to reflect on a few questions:
“Am I tapped for leadership? Am I willing to step into that? Why or why not?”
Hmmm. Even as I type this, months later, I cringe at words like leader or teacher. Why? Well, that’s easy. I cringe because I know who I am. I know intimately every failing, every weakness, every reason I am not capable or worthy of those titles. Oh, and there’s that whole thing James wrote about, where teachers get a stricter judgment. With great power comes great responsibility and all that.
In the end, it’s fear, pure and simple. Fear of the aforementioned things, but also fear of engaging. You see, it’s easy here in the blogosphere. Writing enables me to engage while holding people at arm’s length. Actually sitting down and teaching, walking alongside folks, that’s the scary part. You all are messy and unpredictable in real life. You get into my personal bubble, physically and emotionally. That’s hard to willingly step into!
The teens’ study was amazing, and ended up being something like the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie stories. If you give the girls a bible study method, they might get excited about scripture. And if they get excited about scripture, they’ll ask to do another in the summer. And if they ask to do another in the summer, they might want to hang out and do it at your house. And if they hang out and study at your house, their moms might want to do one too….you see where this goes.
I’m still much more comfortable with the title of facilitator. Truth be told, I dislike having any title at all. I just think of the wisdom my pastor shared the first time we visited our church a year ago. He said to ask:
What makes me excited about Jesus? Do that.
What makes me apathetic about Jesus? Don’t do that!
It’s simple and unpretentious. I like that. I get excited showing women they really can study the bible. I get excited when I see something in scripture I never saw before and I get downright giddy when my Father unmistakably speaks to me through it. I love to share the things I learn with others who are interested and to hear what they’ve learned. It’s a whole new world for me but it feels purposeful and right.
I’d love to tell you about the next study I’m doing but this post is already more than long enough. Another day, perhaps. Until then, I challenge you to ask the question yourself: What makes me excited about Jesus? Then, do that!
Grace and peace,
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.”
-Ephesians 2:10, Berean Study Bible
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.