Sabbath-School Worker


October 1, 1885

To Superintendents and Teachers


There is earnest work to be done in our Sabbath-schools, and those who have the management of these schools should seek to move with wisdom and tact. It is a nice and important work to deal with minds, to leave a right impression, to give the right mold to character. It is a wise educator who seeks to call out the ability and powers of the student, instead of constantly endeavoring to impart instruction. SSW October 1, 1885, Art. A, par. 1

At different time I have received letters of inquiry in regard to the duties of the Sabbath-school superintendent. One who felt grieved because he could not awaken a deeper interest on the part of teachers and scholars, said that he took much time in talking with them, explaining everything he thought essential for them to understand, and yet there seemed to be a great lack of interest. They were not moved religiously. I would here say to this honest brother, and to any others who may laboring under similar difficulties, Examine to see if you are not responsible, in a great degree, for this lack of religious interest. Many try to do too much, and fail to encourage their teachers and students to do what they can. They need great simplicity and religious earnestness. They make long, dry speeches in the Sabbath-school and the teachers’ meeting, thus wearying the minds of both teachers and students. Such remarks are greatly out of place. They do not adapt their instruction to the real wants of the school, and they fail to draw hearts to them, for their own hearts are not full of spiritual sympathy. They do not realize that by their long, tedious talks they are killing the interest in, and love for, the school. SSW October 1, 1885, Art. A, par. 2

The same course is frequently pursued in the Sabbath meetings. When there is no preacher present, the one who is appointed to lead the meeting feels it his duty to try to supply the lack as best he can, and starts out with a long, prosy talk that kills the meeting on the start. And yet he is often distressed because there is so little interest manifested by those who attend these meetings. He sees that the interest is waning, and he begins to inquire what he shall do. To such I would say, Cease your efforts to sermonize. Many love to talk; but their speeches are long and dry; there is none of the heavenly moisture in them. I can but sympathize with the listeners when such a one has charge of the meeting. He thinks that so much talking ought to do a great amount of good, but it is a positive injury. A man may be logical; he may be sound in doctrine; his instruction may contain nothing but that which, if followed, will do good; and still his labors may be useless; they lack the holy fire. Such a one will never see the results he desires, either in the church or in the Sabbath-school, till he changes his manner of teaching. When the hearts of the workers are brought into sympathy with Christ, when he abides in them by living faith, they will not talk one-half as long, nor manifest one-half the smartness, that some do now; but what they say in love and simplicity will reach the heart, and they will be brought in close sympathy with teachers, scholars, and church-members. SSW October 1, 1885, Art. A, par. 3

A true educator will carry the minds of his hearers with him. His words will be few but earnest. Coming from the heart, they will be full of sympathy, and warm with the love for precious souls. His educational advantages may have been limited, and he may have but little natural ability, but a love for the work and a willingness to labor in humility will enable him to awaken a deep interest in both teachers and scholars. The hearts of the young will be drawn to him. His work will not be a mere form. He may have the ability to draw out from both teachers and students precious gems of spiritual and intellectual truths, and thus, while educating others, he will be educated himself. The scholars are not awed by his display of profound knowledge, and in simple language they tell what impression the lesson has made upon their minds. The result is a deep and living interest in the school. Through the simplicity of the gospel of Christ, he has reached them where they are. Their hearts are melted, and now he can mold them into the image of his Master. SSW October 1, 1885, Art. A, par. 4

A keen, sharp intellect may be an advantage, but the power of the educator is in his heart connection with the Light and Life of the world. He will love humanity and ever seek to bring it to a higher level. He will not always be blaming others, but his heart will be filled with pity. He will not be great in his own estimation, neither will he seek constantly to bolster up and strengthen his own dignity; but the humility of Jesus will be personified in his life. He will feel the truth of the words of Christ, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Such teachers as these are greatly needed. God will work with them. “Learn of me,” says Christ, “for I am meek and lowly of heart.” Many who are engaged in the Sabbath-school work need divine enlightenment. They lack spiritual insight to enable them to apprehend the wants of those for whom they are laboring. SSW October 1, 1885, Art. A, par. 5

The Sabbath-school, if rightly conducted, is one of God's great instrumentalities to bring souls to a knowledge of the truth. It is not the best plan for teachers to do all the talking, but they should draw out the class to tell what they know. Then let the teacher, with a few brief, pointed remarks or illustrations, impress the lesson upon their minds. Under no circumstances should teachers go through the lesson mechanically, and then sit down, leaving the children to stare about, or whisper and play, as we have seen them do. Such teaching is not beneficial; it is often injurious. If the teacher is properly prepared, every moment can be used to profit. The active minds of the children should be kept constantly employed. Their ideas should be drawn out and corrected, or approved, as the case may require. But never should the teacher sit down, saying, I am through. There is no such thing as getting through with the lesson. SSW October 1, 1885, Art. A, par. 6

Superintendents, never scold nor complain before your teachers or scholars. If you wish to influence the school for good, put away the whip, and exert a heaven-inspiring influence which will carry the minds of all with you. In making plans and regulations for the school, let them represent, as nearly as possible, the voice of the school. In some schools there is a sharp, critical spirit. Much is made of forms and rules, while the weightier matters, mercy and the love of God, are neglected. Let all be cheerful. If any have clouds encompassing their souls, let them work out into the sunlight before they enter the Sabbath-school. A mother who is constantly relating her discouragements, and complaining to her children of their lack of appreciation, cannot have proper control of them. So will it be with you, teachers and superintendents. If you see a lack in this respect, do not lessen your influence by speaking of it; but in a quiet way set influences to work that will correct the evil. Plan, study, how to secure a well-organized, well-disciplined school. SSW October 1, 1885, Art. A, par. 7

All in the school should feel themselves learners. We are to become daily learners if we would be true educators. It is a noble thing to teach; it is a blessed thing to learn. Knowledge is a precious possession, and the more we obtain of it, the better work will we do if we make a right use of it. As workers for God, we want more of Jesus and less of self. We should have more of a burden for souls, and should pray daily that strength and wisdom may be given us for the Sabbath. Teachers, meet with your classes. Pray with them, and teach them how to pray. Let the heart be softened, and the petitions short and simple, but earnest. Let your words be few and well chosen; and let them learn from your lips and your example that the truth of God must be rooted in their hearts or they cannot stand the test of temptation. We want to see whole classes of young people being converted to God, and growing up useful members of the church. SSW October 1, 1885, Art. A, par. 8

E. G. White.