Recently I’ve been having a little trouble getting my Sunday school kids to listen when I am reading out the lesson for the week. Now before I get properly into this, I just want to say that I don’t want to bring these kids down at all, they are mostly great students and I have a lot of fun teaching them… plus they are just kids after all, I can’t expect them to be perfectly well behaved all the time!
Anyway, the kids just won’t really pay attention while I am reading to them and when I ask questions at the end, they more often than not either stare at me blankly, or don’t even hear me asking the question. This got me thinking about why they might not be listening and how I can get them to listen – and I realised that there is a big lesson I can learn for myself from this.
I don’t know how many exhortations, how many bible readings, how many prayers, how many hymns I have sat/stood through and not taken in a single thing because I was off in my own little dreamland, thinking about what I’m going to have for lunch, that pair of shoes I want to buy, etc. All of those times I was missing out on learning more about God and the teachings He wants me to hear.
All of these weeks I had been hypocritically urging my kids to just look at me for a few minutes and listen to what I was saying, and that was just what I should have been doing myself for God.
“Hear me now, o ye children and depart not from the words of my mouth”
~ Proverbs 5:7
It’s easy to think that we know everything we need to know, or at least all of the main, important things, so switching off doesn’t feel like it’ll hurt. But, in order to stay on track spiritually, we need to listen. In Hebrews 2:2 it says, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” And in Psalm 85:8, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.”
Also, the more we read and hear God’s word, the more we are building our relationship with Him and Christ. In John 10:27 Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” There are always new things that we can learn about God and Christ, if only we would just hear His word.
One thing that I have noticed, which seems blatantly obvious now, is that the kids are always much less likely to be listening properly (or at all) when we have things out on the table (pens, scissors, stickers, etc.). I have started leaving these in the cupboard until after the lesson so there are less distractions. I can do the same thing for myself at home when I am trying to read the bible. Move or turn off anything that might divert my attention from what I’m trying to do.
The reward we get from listening to God’s word can’t be compared to anything else. Isaiah 55:3 says, “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” Also in John 10:28 it says of those who hear Jesus and follow him, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
There were so many verses that I found demonstrating why we should hear what God is saying. I probably could have gone on all day but I will finish there and leave with this one:
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
~ Proverbs 4:20-22