A Bible Worker Soliloquizes

I am glad God called me to do Bible work, and I pray every day that I may be filled with the Holy Spirit in order that I may win many souls to Christ. But I am not satisfied with the results I am getting. Perhaps something is lacking in my prepara­tion.

By Ruby L. McSparban

I am glad God called me to do Bible work, and I pray every day that I may be filled with the Holy Spirit in order that I may win many souls to Christ. But I am not satisfied with the results I am getting. Perhaps something is lacking in my prepara­tion.

 

The other evening, Pastor B lent me this little book, "The Seven Laws of Teaching," by Gregory. I am not a teacher; yet I wonder if I have been making a mistake in my conception of Bible work in separating it in my mind from teaching? When Christ gave the gospel commission, He said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all na­tions, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have com­manded you." In the book "Educa­tion," too, there is the statement that "in the highest sense the work of education and of redemption are the same." It may be that this little book, "The Seven Laws of Teaching," contains just the help I need. I will study it, and see if there is anything in it that can be applied to my work.

On page 2 the author says: "Teach­ing, in its simplest sense, is the com­munication of experience. . . . It is painting in the mind of another the picture in one's own—the shaping of the thought and understanding to the comprehension of some truth which the teacher knows and wishes to com­municate." I see. Miss M, the church school teacher, is communicating to her pupils her experience in the use of figures, letters, et cetera, while my work is to communicate to my readers my experience in spiritual things. This is clearly stated in the first "law" of teaching: "A teacher must be one who knows the lesson or truth or art to be taught."

Applying this law to my own work, I find that I must have, first of all, a thorough knowledge of the Bible. But the impartation of Bible facts is only a means to an end. My purpose in giving Bible readings is to have my readers experience salvation, and I cannot impart to them an experience in spiritual birth and growth unless I myself have that experience. For while "we follow with expectation and delight the guide who has a thorough knowledge of the field we wish to ex­plore," only disaster can come to one who, on a perilous path, follows a dull or careless guide. Then, too, knowl­edge on the part of the teacher in­spires confidence in the one taught. How often we hear a lack of confi­dence expressed by young people in a teacher who allows himself to depend too constantly upon the textbook! Only a few days ago I heard a young girl say of her domestic science teacher, "I don't believe she ever made a loaf of bread in her life!" All this teaches me that I must know the won­derful truth of God's love and His power to save from sin, before I can awaken in others a desire to expe­rience it.

Early in the book it is stated that "teaching has its natural laws as fixed as the laws of the planets or of grow­ing organisms." I hadn't thought of that before, but as I read on, I see it is true.

Here is something about attention: "Gain and keep the attention and in­terest of the pupils upon the lesson.

Do not try to teach without attention." I wonder if the book tells how to do all that, Yes! There are three kinds of attention. One kind is called "pas­sive," and is described as flitting. That is the kind Mrs. V gives when I have readings with her. Sometimes she looks right at me, but I know her mind is somewhere else. I will read on: "The two chief hindrances to at­tention are apathy and distraction.. . . If the apathy or distraction comes from fatigue or illness, the wise teacher will not attempt to force the lesson." I think I am finding a solu­tion to my problem with Mrs. V. She is not very well, and I know she works harder than she should. She always washes on Monday forenoons. I shall try giving her shorter readings, and shall ask her if she could take her reading Thursday forenoons instead of Monday afternoons, if Mrs. C is willing to change hours with her.

That will take care of Mrs. C's case, too. "Distracted" describes her inter­est. Billy keeps running in when we are having our reading, and Mrs. C misses many things I am anxious for her to get. But Billy attends kinder­garten in the afternoons, so under such an adjustment our time will be uninterrupted.

Here is food for thought: "The lan­guage used in teaching must be com­mon to teacher and learner. In other words, it must be understood by each with the same meaning to both." "If the pupil obviously fails to understand you, repeat your thought in other lan­guage, if possible with greater sim­plicity." I had not attached so much importance to just a word, but here it says: "It may be a single unusual or misunderstood term that breaks the connection. . . . Children do not al­ways ask for explanations, discouraged sometimes by fear of the teacher, or shame for their own ignorance." I should have thought of that! I know how I always hesitated, as a child, to ask about things for fear I should be thought ignorant; and I am still often reticent about asking for explanations. And what applies to children is often true of their elders. That dear little Mrs. B, who meets with the group at Sister M's, sometimes looks so puzzled and inquiring. I have learned that her mother was a gypsy, and that she knows nothing of the Bible. It is quite evident that the language I have been using was not common to both of us.

The fifth law of teaching is stated thus: "Stimulate the pupil's own mind to action. Keep his thoughts as much as possible ahead of your expression, placing him in the attitude of a dis­coverer, an anticipator." If anyone needs to know how to do this, it surely is the Bible worker. I wonder what time it is! Time to start for Mrs. D's, I see.

I am glad to have this evening at I home, so I can finish reading "The Seven Laws of Teaching." The read­ing at Mrs. D's this afternoon seemed to be the best one we have had there. I believe some of the things read in this book helped to make it so. Three of her neighbors were present, one who has been coming quite regularly. The first time she came, she seemed rather indifferent—her attention was decidedly "passive." But today the attention manifested by each one was all that could be desired—what the book calls "secondary-passive." Our reading was on the "Millennium." At the beginning I thought of what I had read about the law of the language; and I asked Mrs. D if she had heard the term "millennium" used. She said that she thought she had, but couldn't say that she knew just exactly what it meant. One of the others said she thought the word could "be found in the Bible, at least in the index." So we spent a minute or two discussing the word, its derivation (but I didn't say "derivation") and meaning. By that time all seemed to feel at ease, and to have confidence in the truth presented. The presence of the Spirit was felt, and precious lessons of God's love and justice were impressed upon our hearts.

Surely everything that the Bible worker can learn that will enable her to apply the laws of teaching to her work will be added equipment that the Spirit can use to God's glory.

Sioux City, Iowa.


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By Ruby L. McSparban

August 1931

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