A bible instructor's first year is more important than any other year in her experience, because it is the foundation year. If she is courageous in the work at the start, her contacts with the people will be pleasant, and she will make better progress. As she sees the fruit of her labor, it will give her zeal and courage to continue the good work which she has begun. If, on the other hand, her first impressions are unpleasant, she will be unhappy and more likely to create an unfavorable impression on the people. Because of this, she will not make such good progress, and may become discouraged before she is thoroughly established in the work.
In order that the first year may be a happy and fruitful one, it is to the advantage of the young worker that she be placed with one of more experience. In this way she can be instructed, counseled, and encouraged. A little practical experience along with a more experienced worker will help to inspire her with confidence.
The first year in the Bible work not only requires much earnest prayer for guidance, but as at no other time, the worker needs to study. It is difficult at first to keep the many texts of Scripture in mind, and yet it is very necessary. So often questions are asked, and it becomes necessary to give a study on a subject for which one is not prepared. This is difficult for the young worker, but it pays to lay a good foundation of Bible study in the first year. Unless there is much study, there is also the danger that the lessons she gives will become stereotyped, losing their freshness and beauty.
During the first year many things happen for the first time, and consequently the new worker is liable to experience great extremes of feeling —either joy or grief. She has no past experience with which to compare the various happenings, and so the likelihood is that she will at times become either elated or else downcast. I remember the first time one of my readers promised to come to church on Sabbath. My heart overflowed with joy and gratitude to God, and I came away feeling that I could not be happier. I also remember the feeling of dejection which came over me when, in one day, two very promising women told me that they felt quite content to remain in their own churches.
Each person is different and reacts differently to the truths presented. During the first year the worker begins to recognize types, but it takes experience to do this successfully, and so, more than at any other period, each new person she contacts is somewhat of a mystery. Some will talk ; others remain silent. Some show very definitely that they sincerely appreciate the Bible truths, and others do not. I visit one woman who keeps a large notebook in which she jots down the texts and my comments on them. She is very particular, and it takes time for her to compile sentences which will satisfy her. In complete contrast, I visit another woman who says nothing at all. Questions bring forth no definite answer from her, and I have as yet gained no knowledge of her attitude in respect to our message.
Some readers are a joy to meet. One woman, without any mention being made of the matter, realized that theatergoing is not consistent with Christian living, and quite voluntarily stopped the practice. Another woman had gone every Saturday afternoon for over twenty years with her husband to play whist. When she realized that Saturday is the Sabbath, she felt she could not go again, and she has not been since, even though it has made her husband very angry.
It is well for the new worker to develop the talent of getting Bible studies started in every home possible. Not only is she thus gaining experience, but she so enlarges the sphere of her influence that God will in this way bring the Bible truths for these days to many souls.