Think for a moment about the one person who has influenced your life the most for Christ. As you think about that person, what are the key things about that person that you admire and want to see in your own life? I have asked many Sunday School leaders this question and I have discovered that there are four basic things that make a Christian leader effective in touching the lives of others. These four skills can and should be developed in all of our lives.
The first skill is related to personal character. The people who influence others for Christ are genuine. They demonstrate traits such as honesty, integrity, generosity, conviction, gentleness and love. They seek to be free of hypocrisy and as a result, others feel safe around them. They live out their convictions in everyday ways in everyday life. These influencers can be trusted with your deepest hurts and most shameful secrets. The power of their personal character is persuasive and causes us to want to imitate those qualities in our own lives.
I call this a skill, because personal character really stems from the ability to lead ourselves. A person of character has learned to say “no” to herself and those personal desires that could lead her down the wrong path. She has learned to discipline herself in her spiritual life and as she stays close to God, Christ in her comes in contact with those around her.
The second skill is related to love, understanding and commitment to the Word of God. The Bible is a life-changing book. As a Christian leader spends time learning and applying the Word of God to his own life, the change that it makes becomes evident to those around him. There is a hunger in a Believer’s heart to know God’s Word. As we learn and grow from the truth and as we share that truth in words and lifestyle, it can have a major impact upon those who listen and observe.
Thirdly, communication skills allow a Christian to influence others in positive ways. This is a skill that may sound less spiritual in nature, yet often the way we communicate does have a spiritual side to it. If you would do a serious study of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), you would find that many of the characteristics of love are also the characteristics of good communicators. The Proverbs also speak of the wisdom involved in choosing our words carefully. As we study the Master Communicator, we find that Jesus was highly skilled in the use of stories and He used simple words that others could easily understand. If anyone could speak “over the heads” of His listeners, it was Jesus. Yet He chose to focus on the needs and level of understanding of His listeners when He spoke. He spoke with passion and conviction and many wanted to follow Him as a result.
The last skill is associated with how we relate to other people. People skills do seem to come more naturally to some than they do for others, but we all can learn how to relate better to others better if we would be more deliberate about it. Most people with poor people skills do not think they have a problem in this area. That is why it is important for us to keep growing and learning how to be better listeners and become more loving and sensitive to others. Again, there is a spiritual side to this skill as well and many biblical teachings related to encouraging others.
If you are interested in growing in each of these skills, let me encourage you to check out the video teaching provided at www.missionohio.e-quip.net. In the search box, type “David Frasure” and you can see five videos called “Basic Training for Sunday School Teachers.” In the videos, I teach on the four skills every Sunday School Teacher needs to develop.