Counsels on Sabbath School Work


Treatment of Erring Pupils

In Sabbath school work we shall be called upon to deal with those who make mistakes, who fall into sin and error. Christ has given us lessons in His word that are very plain in regard to the treatment of the erring; but many have failed to practice these lessons. They have not studied and treasured them in the heart, so that the Holy Spirit could enlighten the darkened understanding, and melt and break the stony heart of both teacher and pupil. The Holy Spirit will make the heart sensitive, sympathetic, and rid it of pride and selfishness. CSW 171.1

Pupils in Sabbath school are likely to do that which will annoy the teacher, by their misconduct. But the teacher must not speak sharp words, and manifest an uncontrolled spirit; for in so doing he will not be using the sword of the Spirit, but the weapons of Satan. Although the misconduct of the scholar is trying, although the evil must be corrected, the rules observed, and justice respected, yet let the teacher keep the way of the Lord, and mingle mercy with justice. Let him look to the cross of Calvary, beholding there how mercy and truth have met together, how righteousness and peace have kissed each other. There, through the divine sacrifice, man may be reconciled to God. In contemplating the love of Christ, your heart will be softened to deal with the youth as with younger members of the Lord's family. You will remember that they are Christ's property, and your disposition will be to deal with them after the manner in which Christ has dealt with you. CSW 171.2

Harsh dealing will never help the youth to see his errors, or aid him to reform. Let the rules and regulations of the school be carried out in the Spirit of Jesus, and when reproof must be given, let this disagreeable work be done with sorrow blended with love. Do not feel that it is your work to openly rebuke the pupil, and thus humiliate him before the whole school. This will not be a proper example to set before the children, for it will be as seed that will bear a like harvest. Never publish the errors of any pupil outside the circle in which they must be known; for, if this is done, sympathy will be created for the wrongdoer, by leaving an impression on the mind that he has been dealt with unjustly. By exposing the wrongdoer, he may be thrown upon Satan's battlefield, and from that moment go steadily downward. Christ bears long with us, and we must be Christlike. He does not cut us off because of our errors, but reproves in tenderness, and by love draws us close to Himself. CSW 172.1

Wisdom and Patience Needed

If teachers see that it is impossible to bring a student under the discipline of the class, let him be removed to another class, for it may be that another teacher may be able to supply the deficiency. What one teacher lacks, another may possess; but if you can obtain the confidence of the youth, and bind him to your heart through cords of sympathy and love you may win a soul to Christ. The wayward, self-willed, independent boy may become transformed in character. CSW 172.2

But while it is necessary to manifest love and sympathy for your pupils, it is a manifest weakness to show partiality, and thus arouse suspicion and jealousy. Children are quick to discern the preferences of the teacher, and the favored student often measures his strength, his aptness, and skill with that of the teacher in the management of the class. He may decide to be master; and unless the teacher has the grace of Christ, he will manifest weakness, become impatient, exacting, and severe. The leading spirit of the class will generally impart his purpose to other students, and there will be a combined effort to obtain the mastery. If the teacher, through the grace of Christ, is self-controlled, and holds the lines with a steady, patient hand, he will quell the boisterous element, keep his self-respect, and command the respect of his students. When once order is restored, let kindness, gentleness, and affection be manifested. It may be that rebellion will rise again and again, but let not the hasty temper appear. Do not speak sharply to the evildoer, and discourage a soul who is struggling with the powers of darkness. Be still, and let your heart ascend in prayer to God for help. Angels will come close to your side, and help you to lift up the standard against the enemy; and instead of cutting off the erring one, you may be enabled to gain a soul for Christ.—Testimonies on Sabbath-School Work, 77-80. CSW 173.1