I hoped to make an impact on those high school students, but things did not turn out as expected. Every last Saturday of the month, I visit at least one high school to guide and counsel teenagers about the Christian way of life. To avoid redundancy and boring my audience, I start the session by talking about a recent event familiar to them. This technique usually spices things up and makes the teenagers open to serious conversations. Midway into my sessions, I find everyone enthusiastic and willing to share their life experiences with me. They seek both intellectual and spiritual guidance and I openly provide it to them. However, on this particular Saturday, the crowd was very rigid and gloomy. I used my usual familiarity technique and it failed. Only a few students were interested in the conversation, while others seemed to be somewhere else mentally. From the look on their faces, we were in parallel universes. Because I am not used to silence in an audience, I felt uneasy as I spoke with these students.
Surprisingly, even the tools from my Christian education toolkit did not work on this specific crowd. Because no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes in life, I used a personal experience to stress this point. I explained to them how peer pressure enticed me to take drugs and how this behavior almost ruined me. If I did not get saved, then I would surely be dead from drug overdose. Normally, a personal experience like this one should alert the audience and spur some emotions in them. Unfortunately, my audience was emotionless – they looked puzzled and lost when I finished the story. They looked at me as if to say, ‘go on, finish your story and leave us in peace.’ I felt under so much pressure with this bunch. My most effective tool did not work and that left me in a state of panic.
Being the professional that I am, I did not let them see me at my lowest point and I shifted the attention to the audience. I opened the floor for everyone and anyone was free to speak their mind. By God’s grace, one student took to the podium and spoke like I have never seen. He openly expressed himself and the struggles he went through as a Christian. Additionally, he spoke about the ways in which Christianity helped him overcome those challenges. This child taught me that perhaps I should have been more patient with my audience. I should have given them time to gather their courage and speak.
Patience is a Christian virtue and maybe that is what I lacked in this situation. God was testing me and I failed miserably. I let my emotions instead of my brain control my actions. The moment I noticed the non-responsive faces on my audiences, I panicked and rushed through the counseling. I felt like the audience was judging me and I wanted to finish up quickly to escape the torment.
This experience taught me the importance of courage and confidence in Christian education. A Christian educator should always be confident in their skills and avoid presumptions. If I had believed in my abilities, then perhaps my audience would have been more responsive. I should have been more courageous and less scared of my audience. They looked up to me for guidance and I was afraid to give it to them.
The key areas that I need to focus on to become an effective Christian educator are patience, courage, and confidence. I need to be more patient with people and learn how to control my emotions. As a Christian educator, I am a leader and people look up to me, therefore, I should be more courageous and confident.
. Nathan Hershberger, "Patience as Hermeneutical Practice: Christ, Church, and Scripture in John Howard Yoder and Hans Frei," Modern Theology 31, no. 4 (2015): 547.
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