Convinced that Jesus has assigned you the task of Sabbath School leadership, but can’t seem to quite pull it all together? Powerful attributes of successful leaders include being organized, involving the right people at the right time, using the elastic, and pouring on the praise.
At one time in his life, Moses was discombobulated, unorganized, and overwhelmed. Then his wise father-in-law, Jethro, pointed out to Moses that he was wearing himself out (Exod. 18:18). Listening to the wisdom of Jethro, Moses developed a system of organization that took the children of Israel to another level. This new system of organization allowed Moses to rest, provided an opportunity for other leaders to grow, and increased support for the congregation as a whole. Can you just imagine the praise Moses heaped on his father-in-law—and on God?
Sometimes as a leader one is tempted to think that only “I” can do it right. But the Bible teaches that each person has gifts (Rom. 12:4, 6). So there are some who can do what you need to have done better than you can! Once you trust others to use their God-given talents, you will see growth in your program.
Go ahead: delegate, delegate, delegate! Break tasks into groupings of who can do what, when, and where. Allow participants to accomplish the tasks. Provide direction before reassigning the tasks to someone else.
Be on time—yes, you can! Remember the old saying: “On time is too late for leaders.” Why? Rushing consumes too much time and attention. Rushing produces unnecessary distress in the people who work with you—and the people intended to receive the blessings of Sabbath School. So plan to arrive early. Allow others to help you set up. End on time. Attendees notice an organized program, and that encourages not only their future attendance but future participation.
Do accept suggestions. Learn from an old wives’ tale: “Eat the meat, and throw away the bones,” meaning use what works and discard the rest.
Acknowledge your weaknesses as well as your strengths. If you know that producing PowerPoint programs is not your strength, assign someone with that strength to provide that graphic support. Engage your entire team in methodically searching for pew warmers who have talents and resources in your areas of need. They are rams in your thicket. So enable those members and guests to do what they do well and become a part of your team. The collaboration of team members builds strength. All successful teams—with openly appreciative Sabbath School leaders—attract the top talent for their projects.
You can ask for help. When you become overwhelmed, you may hesitate to ask for help. However, productive leaders focus on completing the program more than adequately and also leave breathing room in the schedule. Only the strong realize their need. Only the strong ask for help.
Use the elastic! Lead the team in developing a schedule of upcoming events, detailing responsibilities—from the weekly greeters at the church door to community guest programs—and providing the resources necessary for success. Mistakes will always occur, even with the best-laid plans, but superintendents must make sure that there is enough elasticity—contingency planning—to allow changes.
You can let go and let God. Remember that the ultimate success in any program belongs to God. Once you put the Sabbath School evangelism and disciple-making into His hands, you have a partner for the guaranteed success that only He can produce.
Praise Him! As you watch a project unfold and weekly programs improve, lead your team in praising God for all the successes all along the way. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
A mind-set as described here will enable you and your team to be eager—and prepared—for each opportunity to praise God in your Sabbath School ministry.
Gina S. Brown
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists