Loyalty in Sunday School Service

Translated from El-Kerazah Magazine, Vols. 15-16, 1996

The Importance of Loyalty:

      God entrusts us with the particular mission of ministering his children and youth. He asks us to be honest: "Who then is that faithful and wise steward whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat (spirituality) in due season (appropriate to the age)" (Luke 12:42).

      The Lord told each of the good and faithful servants who entered Heaven, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord" (Matthew 25:21, 23). Thus God spoke to the one who received five talents, to the one who received only two and to all who traded and were fruitful. By "a few things," He means the responsibilities in our lives. By the expression "many things," the Lord inspires us to earn Eternal Life. About the extent of honesty in service, the Lord Jesus declared, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). The servant must be faithful and loyal to his service even till death. St. Paul the Apostle said, "So then death worketh in us, but life in you." How does this work? "For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake ..."(II Corinthians 4:12, 11).

Some Examples of Honesty:

The Lord entrusted them to preach and to serve everywhere. In about 30 years, they witnessed "both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1: 8). They witnessed in the East, in North Asia, in Greece, in Italy, even in West Spain and Southern Egypt.

They stood before kings, emperors and judges; they were tried, imprisoned and whipped. "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name" (Acts 5:41). Jesus told them, "the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (John 16: 2). "In journey soften..., in perils, in the wilderness, in perils in the sea... in weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often" (II Corinthians 11:26, 27).

St. Paul listed his many afflictions in personal and in group service saying, "Beside those things that are without that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?" (II Corinthians 28, 29)

St. Athanasius the apostolic was severely persecuted by Jairus and exiled away from his rank four times for defending his faith. In exile, he toured, ministered, confirmed people in their true faith and abolished all doubt implanted by the heretics. Thus, he constituted a school of saints that defended their faith, which reached us in all authenticity and distinguished them in all generations.

He said adequately, "Surely I will not come in the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, a habitation for the mighty God of Jacob" (Psalms 132:3-5). When God did not allow him to build his house, David still prepared what was needed so that his son can construct it without complications (I Chronicles 29).
It would be beneficial for oneself to say, “I will not come in my house; I will not sleep until I prepare a place for God in the heart of each of my students and each person God puts me in contact with.”

The Elements of Honesty:

              What must a servant do to be honest in his service? The elements of this honesty are many:

    1. Honesty in knowing the children to be served: He must know all the children in the church boundaries, the children in Sunday School classes, their friends, neighbors and relatives. He becomes familiar with the church membership list or the list from school. It is important to seek every soul and to encourage everyone to enter the church, and from there to enter God's love.
    2. Honesty in visits: When a student is absent, the teacher does not rest until he finds out the reason for his absence, ensures his return and regular attendance, and asks his best friends to encourage him. When a sheep was lost, Christ the Lord left the other 99 and went to look for it until he found it. He then carried it on his shoulders, rejoicing (Luke 15).
    3. Honesty in lesson planning: One who neglects the planning of his lesson will not teach the children beneficially; the information he gives is superficial and disorganized. The honest servant gives an exciting lesson, full of information, adapted to the children's mentality, illustrated by stories and audio-visual aids.
    4. Conscientiousness in explaining and teaching the children: A faithful teacher uses good methods to enrich the student's mentality; he asks them questions and organizes discussions for review. He ensures that all students have a complete grasp of the lesson, memorize a verse or more, or study a hymn.
    5. Punctuality: The careless servant may miss some classes, or he may come late; therefore he causes disturbance not only to the children but also to the person in charge. But the reliable servant has a sincere and deep relation with his children. He is eager to meet with them and hence, he is never absent.
    6. Devotion in prayers for the children served: Many of the children served need prayers, whether they ask or not: the disruptive children, the sick, the absent or the ones with special needs. They all need God to intervene in their lives through the servant's fervent prayers for them. The prophet Samuel's said, "Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way" (I Samuel 12:23). Omitting the prayers for the students is a "sin against the Lord."
    7. Loyalty in spiritual life: The spiritual life of the teacher has an impact on his students. They will imitate or criticize his errors. In both instances, the students are at a disadvantage. The teacher must be a positive example for them. The teacher's spirituality is important for his eternal life and for his students.

The Reasons for Honesty:

    1. It is a responsibility. God will ask us about the souls He entrusted us. He will ask from each of us to "give an account of the stewardship" (Luke 16:2). Or He will say, "where is Abel thy brother?" (Genesis 4:9). What will our answer to the Lord be? Hopefully it will be as Christ the Lord said to the Father, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do," “and I have declared unto them Thy name and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them” (John 17:4, 26).
    2. The soul is precious. God entrusted you with these children. You may be their only spiritual teacher. If you are neglectful, what will happen to these souls? Christ died for each one of them, and He redeemed each by His own blood. With complete integrity, we must take care of these souls, bring them closer to God, teach them the truth, save them from all doubt, answer their questions like St. John the Baptist "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17) and "prepare the Lord's way in these hearts." (Mark 1:2, 3).
    3. Serving others is serving God Himself. It is the work of God and a preparation for His kingdom. St. Paul said, "Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building" (I Corinthians 3:9). Those you teach are the children of God. You are just His delegate for the education of these children, preparing the vine for its Master (Matthew 21). Be wary of resembling the wicked husbandmen to whom the Lord said, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43).
    4. You have the duties of a Godparent. Right after Baptism, the mother is given her child back. She thus becomes a Godmother. Often, she does not perform this role adequately. She delegates the responsibility to the Sunday School teacher. Evidently, the teacher is administered this responsibility by the child's family and by the Church; he must study the duties of the Godparent and be loyal to perform these duties.