Every month I get the opportunity to teach the preschool class at my church. And every month, I put an inordinate amount of pressure on myself to make sure I’ve followed the lesson plan to a tee.
I know. I can’t believe I just said that. Preschool and pressure.
Usually the only pressure involving preschoolers is the one these sweet kiddos are feeling on their bladders as they finish out their potty training. Yet here I am, sweating it out and asking myself questions like, “Did I hit all the points? Did I teach the right things and ask the right questions? Was anyone listening? Did anything stick?”
It seems almost absurd to fret about such things when your audience of four, five and six-year-olds are more concerned about when they’re going to have their snack, if I can put a Band-Aid on a boo-boo only they can see, and why we have run out of emoji stickers to decorate their craft.
But I do feel pressure. It probably has a little to do with my personality and my desire to do things well (if not perfectly), but I also believe it has something to do with the sense of responsibility we feel when we’re placed in a position of leadership or authority.
There’s a weightiness that comes with teaching. The goal is to propel students forward with truth, knowledge, and the tools they need for success. To do that requires preparation on our part. I don’t want to be the reason someone else fails because I failed to do my part well.
On this particular Sunday, my teaching confidence was at an all-time low. Like a zero on a scale of one to 10. I wrapped up the lesson and all the activities and glanced at my watch. Twenty-five minutes left to go.
“Well,” I thought to myself. “When all else fails, play games and sing silly songs.”
We launched into a rousing rendition of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” We played “Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone?” and “Mr. Judge.”
And then something amazing happened.
I was looking at their faces and what I saw was pure joy: grins from ear to ear, giggles, and uncontainable delight. It was like watching a movie in slow motion—and as I watched, I heard God whisper to me, “Sarah, you didn’t fail. Do you see their faces? Today, you created a safe place where they experienced joy and love. That…is a GREAT success.”
Friends, don’t underestimate the impact you are having in someone else’s life. What you might perceive as a failure on your part could be exactly what they need. It may seem silly, illogical, and the complete opposite of what you planned to do. It may be completely perfect in a way you never anticipated or expected. Maybe it’s not the sermon or the lesson that impacts someone’s life, but a hello, a hug, and a simple word of encouragement: I believe in you. You’re doing a great job. You got this.
Having an impact on others is easier than you think—just do your best and let the pressure and expectations go.
**For the record, turns out I was wrong about the full impact of my efforts that Sunday. Three days later at breakfast, my daughter (who was in the class) casually mentioned a key point from the lesson. Cue the shock and awe. It did stick.
Maybe, just maybe, I can do this teaching thing after all. Maybe we all can.