How I discovered my calling and you can discover yours
Writing great Sunday School Lessons is my passion. It only took me 30 years to figure that out. My life is the story of gradually focusing my life around my calling. It took me a long time to discover that writing Sunday School lessons (Good Questions Have Groups Talking) was the center of my calling.
I was not one who had a real clear sense of calling early on. I had a vague, unfocused sense of calling when I was in High School. I was into music at the time so I assumed I would serve the Lord in a life of music.
I went to Wayland Baptist University to pursue a degree in music. About half-way through my time there, I felt a nudge of the Holy Spirit. I felt like God was calling me out of music. I was still not sure what I was going to do when I grew up. I was becoming convinced it was not going to be music.
I got a degree in religion and went on to get MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Greek was the most interesting class to me. I took every Greek class I could get my hands on.
When I graduated from seminary, I still did not know what I wanted to do when I grew up. I thought it might be a good idea to work as an Associate of some kind. I would have taken a Music job, a Youth job or any other job that came my way. As it turned out, a Minister of Education job opened up to me.
Remember, I had a degree in theology with an emphasis in Greek. I had no idea what a Minster of Education was or what they did. I started reading a lot of Harry Piland books. I found myself gravitating toward preparing for and delivering lessons. All I really loved doing was preparing lessons. The church grew from one service and Sunday School to four services and four Sunday Schools. I taught during three of those, plus Sunday night and Wednesday night. Because I was especially drawn to the preparation, I would teach different Sunday school lessons at every hour.
How I started writing Sunday School lessons
I stumbled onto my style of writing a lesson that consisted of about 20 ready-to-use questions that I would ask in class. I would ask a question, discuss it, ask question #2 and so forth. After a while other teachers started asking for my notes so I would prepare them ahead of time and distribute my questions to other teachers. I even started mailing a few out to other churches. But, I had a problem. By the time I printed copies, stuffed envelopes, put a stamp on every envelop and so forth. . . the whole thing was more trouble than it was worth.
When the Internet came along I knew I had a distribution system that would solve all these problems. I posted the lessons online and people could download on their end. The distribution problem was solved.
While I was a Minister of Education at a local church my heart began to stir about having a ministry outside the local church. God satisfied this stirring by providing a ministry in conference speaking. After my second book was published, the phone really started to ring with requests to do conferences. For 12 years or so, that was pretty much full time for me.
This was more satisfying for me than working at one local church. It was exciting to travel and speak. But, I was about half bored. I gave the same talk over and over and it was not all that challenging.
This whole time I was still writing Sunday school lessons and publishing them online. One day I had the idea to add a new twist to my Good Questions: provide answers.
The answers came in the form of quotes from well-known writers and commentaries. I started with WordSearch and later added a robust Logos library. I also added quotes from world-class writers via my Kindle.
I sat in enough Sunday School classes over the years to know that Sunday School had a serious problem. Not too many people were talking about, but most of us knew it. Sunday School was boring a lot of times. I remember visiting classes when I would speak and come out thinking, “I give my life for this?” There is a reason a lot of the classes are not growing. And, the reason had nothing to do with not having a good outreach strategy. It had to do with the fact that the class itself was boring. I wanted to help teachers by proving interesting material that would supplement the material they were using. I wanted to find stories that were shocking, illustrations that were funny, statistics that were unbelievable. In short, I wanted to provide teachers with Sunday School lessons that were interesting.
I love writing. I love research. I love providing teachers great material for their Sunday School lessons that are quoted from world class writers.
My life has been the story of moving closer and closer to the sweet spot of my gifting. I am blessed to be able to do what I love to do, what I am passionate about doing, what I enjoy doing, what I feel I must do.