Raise Expectations for Sunday School Leaders

Thursday 13th December, 2007


Many Sunday School leaders are enlisted with little or no expectations. Job descriptions either do not exist or are not used. It is the warm-body syndrome. The nominating group has a position to fill and they seek the first person who comes to mind (popularity contest), often without prayer or consideration about whether the person would be a fit.

Teaching and working in the Sunday School is important work. God deserves our best efforts in making disciples. Our time on earth is limited and the importance of our task is too great to give less. Because of this, we should have high expectations for our leaders. I have written about high expectations in previous blog posts (check out High-Expectation Sunday School and High Expectations Are Necessary for Sunday School's Mutiny Against Mediocrity).

Darrell Johnson has written an article entitled Biblical Requirements of Leaders: Four Must-Have Traits. I the article, Johnson says:

The chief biblical texts that develop the requirements of leaders are: 1 Timothy 3:1-13, 2 Timothy 2:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, Acts 6:1-6, and Exodus 18:21-22. The qualifications spelled out in these passages can be summarized in four words: commitment, conviction, competency, and character.

Wow! Those four words are packed with so much meaning. I would like to explore Johnson's four leader qualifications as applied to Sunday School directors, teachers, and workers. The four words in all capitals are his, but the commentary is mine:

  • COMMITMENT. This is essential to discover prior to enlistment to serve. Do potential and currently serving Sunday School leaders have a strong commitment to our Lord? Is it a growing commitment and relationship? Is there evidence of a daily quiet time and of following the Lord's leadership in all areas of life? Are they faithfully involved in the church and in the Lord's service? Does the individual follow through on their promises (commitments)?
  • CONVICTION. Do potential and currently serving Sunday School leaders lead with passion? Do they act like they believe in our Lord and His mission? Does that thinking influence every aspect of their lives? As Johnson pointed out, this takes time: "Paul warns against being too quick to call recent converts to leadership; commitment and conviction take time to deepen."
  • COMPETENCY. While competency may be difficult to measure directly for potential leaders, perspective should be sought from other areas of their lives. Do they correctly handles God's Word (2 Timothy 2:15)? Are they trustworthy in relationships? Do they live out of their abilities and gifts? If they are a potential leader, do they have the skills necessary to do the job well? If they are a currently serving leader, are they serving to the best of their abilities? Are they in the place of service that best fits?
  • CHARACTER. Even with competency, if there is weakness in character then leadership becomes ineffective. While no one is perfect, every leader should be making progress in that direction. Is there evidence of striving in that direction? For potential leaders, it may be best to reflect on what some have said, "One of the best predictors of future performance is past behavior," especially recent past. Are leaders more like Jesus this year than they were last year? Are they growing in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? How do they respond in times of anger, conflict, stress? Character is often most clearly seen in the times when life squeezes them.

As a Sunday School leader, how do you measure up? How could you raise expectations in these areas in your Sunday School leader enlistment process? What if you simply prepared a list of interview questions in these four areas of qualification? Then when you sit down with potential leaders, you can have a great conversation to begin to help each other to see whether the responsibility might be a fit or not. Pray. Expect. Evaluate. Be revolutionary!

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