Compatibility, the fine art of getting along with others, is essential to successful teaching. At its highest, teaching consists of inspiring others to cooperate. The class facilitator who possesses the ability to lead others without giving offense or taking offense, especially in difficult situations, possesses strength of character, courtesy, and tact.
Aggressive Class Facilitators
Although all facilitators need to control bouts of irritability that may arise when projects are delayed or sidetracked, aggressive teachers need to take extra care to be tactful and respectful of class members. Ellen G. White’s counsel summarizes the dangers:
“We cannot afford to let our spirits chafe over any real or supposed wrong done to ourselves. Self is the enemy we most need to fear. No form of vice has a more harmful effect upon the character than human passion not under the control of the Holy Spirit. No other victory we can gain will be so precious as the victory over self.
“We should not allow our feelings to be easily wounded. We are to live, not to guard our feelings or our reputation, but to save souls. As we become interested in the salvation of souls, we cease to mind the little differences that so often arise in our association with one another” ( The Ministry of Healing, p. 485).
One of the most widespread of all challenges that irritate and distract leaders is criticism—even kindly constructed criticism. People who profit from criticism reinforce their own happiness and productive leadership.
The natural tendency is to resent any and all criticism, and to defend one’s self. Defending one’s ego is as natural as breathing. But the defense may take the form of oversensitiveness and become a mark of weakness, since in this case the defense of the ego is in excess of justice to ourselves. It becomes soul blindness to real self-interest—for excessive egotism is nearsighted.
The counsel may sometimes seem to a stressed facilitator to be careless or indefinite. But prayerful facilitators can control their reactions, because they’ve tapped into the power of God. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
Do all that lies in your power, without the sacrifice of principle, to pacify other people. “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23, 24).
A teacher is at a disadvantage when he is ruffled or when he loses control of himself:
“When you do your appointed work without contention or criticism of others, a freedom, a light, and a power will attend it that will give character and influence to the . . . enterprises with which you are connected.
“Remember that you are never on vantage ground when you are ruffled and when you carry the burden of setting right every soul who comes near you. If you yield to the temptation to criticize others, to point out their faults, to tear down what they are doing, you may be sure that you will fail to act your own part nobly and well” ( Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 184).
Teachers and other leaders who get things done seldom do it all themselves. By consecrated tact and good judgment they enlist the support of others. “I did it my way” may win prizes on Broadway, but the solo worker ends up both burned out and alone.
So class facilitators in God’s religious education program should strive constantly to make themselves agreeable to others on the ministry team as well as to class members. Good public relations are important, for God’s work must be carried on in a spirit of cooperation. In a large measure the teachers’ spirit and attitude determine the degree of cooperation they receive.
All class facilitators do well to prayerfully consider this counsel:
“Try to make yourself agreeable to others. Even in your business relations, be courteous, kind, and forbearing, showing the meekness of Jesus and that His spirit is ruling you . . . A lack of courtesy, a moment of petulance, a single rough, thoughtless word, will mar your reputation and may close the door to hearts so that you can never reach them” ( Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 335).
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists