Our question this week is basically how do we keep older women from “retiring” as Bible class teachers? Is that okay?
I believe this is a frustration in so many congregations. I know I experienced it as a young woman. When I stepped up to teach I actually had an older woman tell me that now that the younger women were stepping up the older women could stop teaching. I was FLABBERGASTED (thought I’d throw in an old lady word)! What about Titus 2:3-5? I learned two things from this experience: 1) There is no retirement program in Christianity. 2) As an older woman I would be different.
1) There is no retirement program in Christianity.
The first scripture that jumps to mind is James 1:22-25. How can I be an effectual doer if I CHOOSE to quit doing? Ephesians 4:16 tells us that the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body. If my body part CHOOSES to quit working, am I still causing the growth? How about all of those “do not grow weary of doing good” scriptures?
I realize that as we get older our “work” in the congregation may change, but ladies let’s be careful of just QUITTING! Watch the attitude. Are you having an attitude problem? “I’ve been teaching for 30 years… It’s someone else’s turn.” Have you helped train that someone else? Are you encouraging others by your example or are you a quitter? I’m just sayin’. Look at that face in the mirror and ask yourself honestly, “What is the attitude behind my thinking?” Is it the attitude of Christ?
2) I will be different as an older woman.
Younger women, decide now to change the precedent of “quitting” when someone else steps up. Decide now to be the older woman that you desire to have in your life. You are already older than someone. What are younger women seeing in you? Remember that it is a reflection of your heart. Do you truly desire to be a servant? Don’t make Christianity about you! It’s not supposed to be about “What do I want?” or “I’ve been teaching for so long!” Be a servant!
Now here is some practical advice:
- Take it to the elders. Maybe some teaching is necessary on this topic.
- Have the young women who haven’t taught before—including your teenagers—sit in the Bible classes as an assistant. Sometimes this removes their fear of teaching. They realize that they can be a teacher too.
- Start a rotation of teachers. Sometimes women are hesitant to volunteer because they are afraid they will never get to be in an adult Bible class again. We find they will commit to a quarter. We started out with the teacher teaching Sunday morning and Wednesday night, using Wednesday night as a review. We would rotate teachers each quarter, so each one is on a quarter, off a quarter. We almost have enough teachers now that each teacher still teaches every other quarter but just Sunday morning or Wednesday night during that quarter.
- Pull the men into teaching the older elementary classes. Our men have jumped in and are helping teach the 3rd graders– 6th graders.
- Be patient! People do not change easily and you cannot change them yourself. God is in charge and they must be willing to change.
- Be prayerful! Again, take it to the elders or the men of your congregation. Have it prayed about from the pulpit. They should be prayers along the lines of “we need people with willing hearts to teach our children,” “soften the hearts of those who should be teaching.”
- Last, watch your attitude! Don’t be a quitter!