Young Disciple Blog Back to Subscribe RSS

Those Juniors, Part 27: Unfailing Springs

by Eric B. Hare

Last week: We must study the mystery of the will—for only then will we understand the true power and force of the will, when applied for good or evil.

We were having morning worship; the Sabbath school lesson that week was about the second coming of Christ, and the memory verse was, “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments.”1 Five-year-old Lennie had repeated the first phrase, when he paused, looked into his mother’s face with big, wide-open eyes, and whispered in hushed awe, “Mother—when Jesus comes—will He—steal things?”

Now what was the trouble? Was it Lennie’s fault? Was it our fault?

In Oakland a few years ago in morning worship a mother was teaching her wee son the lesson of Jesus healing the deaf and dumb man and she said, “Jesus ‘put His fingers into his ears, . . . and touched his tongue.’”2

The little boy roused to attention at once, “But, Mother,” he objected, “Jesus couldn’t do that!”

“Why, yes, sonny, the Bible says Jesus put His fingers into his ears and touched his tongue.”

“But, Mother, how could He? He’d have to put His fingers into his mouth to touch his tongue.”

And the little boy was right. But there was something the matter somewhere. What was the trouble?

For the answer, let us study for a while the teacher himself, his words, and his voice. The book Education emphasizes these spheres in which a teacher should be developed:

  1. Spiritually.
  2. Physically.
  3. Mentally.

Many books have been written from which a teacher might receive spiritual help. Let me quote just two gems:

“In those who possess it, the religion of Christ will reveal itself as a vitalizing, pervading principle, a living, working, spiritual energy. There will be manifest the freshness and power and joyousness of perpetual youth. The heart that receives the Word of God is not as a pool that evaporates, not like a broken cistern that loses its treasure. It is like the mountain stream fed by unfailing springs, whose cool, sparkling waters leap from rock to rock, refreshing the weary, the thirsty, the heavy laden.

“This experience gives every teacher of truth the very qualifications that will make him a representative of Christ. The spirit of Christ’s teaching will give a force and directness to his communications and to his prayers.”3

“To the secret place of the Most High, under the shadow of the Almighty, men now and then repair; they abide for a season, and the result is manifest in noble deeds; then their faith fails, the communion is interrupted, and the lifework marred. But the life of Jesus was a life of constant trust, sustained by continual communion; and His service for heaven and earth was without failure or faltering.”4

Much has also been written about the part that physical health and strength play in teaching:
“The importance of the teacher’s physical qualifications can hardly be overestimated; for the more perfect his health, the more perfect will be his labor. The mind cannot be clear to think and strong to act when the physical powers are suffering the results of feebleness or disease. The heart is impressed through the mind; but if, because of physical inability, the mind loses its vigor, the channel to the higher feelings and motives is to that extent obstructed, and the teacher is less able to discriminate between right and wrong. When suffering the results of ill-health, it is not an easy matter to be patient and cheerful, or to act with integrity and justice.”5

The teacher has also an obligation resting on him to keep alive and up to date mentally:
“The teachers should be of that class who have a living connection with God, who have an appetite for study themselves, who will give time and moral earnestness to their work, and who will not be satisfied unless they see something accomplished.”6

The balance of these three spheres of development is expressed in these words:

“It is not enough that the teacher possess natural ability and intellectual culture. These are indispensable, but without a spiritual fitness for the work he is not prepared to engage in it. He should see in every pupil the handiwork of God,—a candidate for immortal honors.”7

The Teacher’s Words
The teacher’s words are a part of this indispensable intellectual culture. In the case of the wee boy who felt that Jesus must put His finger into the man’s mouth in order to touch the man’s tongue, the difficulty lay in the fact that mother was in “high gear” with her words. If she had changed gears and gone into low for the little boy’s sake, the words “ear” and “tongue” would have been accompanied with a slight action and with a natural pointing to the ear and then to the tongue, and then the whole incident would have been made plain. This changing of gears is one of the tricks of the trade and can only be learned through painful experience. Many a man who is perfectly at ease with college students or adults nearly faints when he is asked to talk to juniors. And to tell a story to cradle roll children successfully is the proof of unusual ability.

“The great naturalist Agassiz used to say that a student did not know his subject until he could present it in four different forms: first as a technical monograph, second as a scientific lecture, third as a popular lecture, and fourth as a simple child’s tale.”8

Great care must also be taken to pronounce words clearly and distinctly, for our words form the bridge over which ideas pass from the teacher to the pupil, and if the bridge is faulty the idea may become distorted.

Pastor Minchin, of Australia, tells a story that illustrates the point. In a certain family something had been lost. They looked and looked, but it couldn’t be found.

Finally the small son of the family said to his mother, “I’ll ask Harold to find it for me,” and forthwith he vanished. Soon after he reappeared with the hopeful assurance, “I’ve asked Harold to find it for me.”

“Who is Harold?” asked the mystified mother.

“Jesus’ Father,” was the prompt reply.

“Whoever told you that?”

The boy looked puzzled as he replied, “Well, we say, ‘Harold be Thy name,’ don’t we?”

Maybe they did not say that, but it sounded like that to that small boy.

In spite of speaking clearly and trying to talk in the right age level, however, we still run into difficulties, such as Jesus stealing things when He comes. Our little Lennie heard the word clearly. It was “thief.” It was spoken in his age level—didn’t he know what thieves were? Hadn’t he joined in some of the exciting thief drills we had organized in the school in an attempt to protect our chickens and our garden?

This introduces the subject of “connotation” for our study.

(Next week: “The Wreckage of Distorted Ideas.”)

1. Rev. 16:15.
2. Mark 7:33.
3. Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 130.
4. Education, p. 80.
5. Counsels to Teachers, p. 177.
6. Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 184.
7. Counsels to Teachers, p. 229.
8. Introduction to Dwellers of the Sea and Shore, by William Crowder. By permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers.

Copyright © 1973 by Eric B. Hare. Used by permission

No comments:

Post a Comment