Letting the Holy Spirit teach

Robert’s Thursday teachers’ class on “The Teacher of God is one who listens” has rekindled my motivation to be more diligent in listening to the Holy Spirit, both in my everyday life and in my teaching. I’d like to explore and discuss with you the topic of listening in this blog format. I hope that by talking about the Holy Spirit’s role in our teaching, we will strengthen this important practice in one another’s lives.

Before I tell you a bit about the role of guidance in my teaching, I’ll briefly mention its place in my day-to-day life. James and I seek guidance whenever we are faced with a decision with which we need help or an issue that we want to understand more clearly. We also begin every day by giving it to the Holy Spirit and offering our minds and bodies into His service. Our practice of turning to Him throughout the day for “what to do next” isn’t always the greatest, so we have recently recommitted to being more intentional and diligent about doing this.

Both before meeting with individual pupils and teaching classes to a group of students, I always start out with the Truly Helpful Prayer, which grounds me and makes it clear about the Holy Spirit being in charge. I have to be serious about it, though, because I have found that when I say the prayer on the fly–that is, when I haven’t left enough time to sit quietly with it for a while–it doesn’t have much holding power. So I do try to leave myself a good chunk of time in order to do it justice; otherwise it becomes just a prayer I say by rote, words with little meaning, words that don’t stick.

When I meet with individual pupils, I find that it’s easy and natural to make the Holy Spirit part of our session. I always start out these one-on-one meetings with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, inviting Him to join us and trusting Him to use our time together for His holy purposes. Throughout our meeting, I silently call upon the Holy Spirit to help me be truly helpful to the person, I ask for His help when I don’t know what to say to him or her, and will sometimes stop and invite my pupil to join me in asking the Holy Spirit for help. The other day a pupil came with a list of questions from the Course, but I ended up somehow answering unasked questions, which were obviously what she really wanted answers for. She left saying that I had given her the missing link to two major issues she had. That could only have been the Holy Spirit knowing what she really needed and then using our session to give it to her.

Although I say the Truly Helpful Prayer before going into class and start each class off with a quiet time, prayer, and dedication to the Holy Spirit, I have just realized that lately I haven’t been involving Him as much during the actual class, specifically in the Text Reading Program (TRP) classes. I think I have been getting all caught up in teaching and in the discussion, and things move so quickly that I haven’t had–or don’t take–the time to catch my breath and call upon the Holy Spirit. There’s so much to cover, and I feel that the onus is on me to help the students get the most out of the readings. Lately, I’ve been feeling as if I’m taking them on a whirlwind tour through the readings, trying to cover all the highlights, but not succeeding very well, and I leave the class with a “yucky” feeling.

As I’m writing about this, I realize that what has happened in the Text Class is that I have, without noticing, slipped into thinking that it’s all up to me. I’m the one to navigate the students through the material so that they get the most from the readings. I’m the one who has to have the answers. I’ve been teaching on my own. I’m surprised that I could have gotten off track like this. My students haven’t noticed anything, and they always leave saying how much they got out of the class. However, I know that something has gone off kilter in the past little while, and I plan to get it back on kilter!

So, I am here with you, recommitting to step back and let the Holy Spirit lead the way. I enjoy classes so much more when I feel He is with me, and I always come out of those classes feeling full of joy and gratitude–and with a sense of renewal!

What about you? Where is the Holy Spirit in your teaching? What is your experience when you involve Him and when you don’t. I’m looking forward to hearing from you and discussing this.

With loving thoughts,

Mary Anne