I received a call one afternoon from a church leader.
“Hey, Lynn, I want you to do a conference for my leaders and show them how to prepare their lesson on Saturday night.”
I paused before I answered. “I can do that. I can show them how to throw a Bible study together on Saturday night, or I can show them how to prepare a good study. Which do you want?”
“Well … uh … I want them to lead a good study.”
This church leader said out loud what a lot of teachers think—and want. I want a Bible study that’s fast and quick to throw together.
We lead busy lives. In addition to leading a Bible study group, we work, spend time with families, and even do other things in the church. So we don’t have 40 hours to devote each week to prepare a Bible study.
So we look for that perfect curriculum. One that just sort of teaches itself. A curriculum we can just open up at a moment’s notice, wing our way through it, and see masses of people get saved, give their lives to missions, or even volunteer to work in the nursery.
That curriculum does not exist.
Many good curriculums are available that are not cumbersome to use; in fact, I know several that I find “easy” to use. But a good Bible study still takes time and effort.
Eric Geiger recently published a blog: 3 Leadership Clichés I Never Use. He included this cliché—Work smarter, not harder—as a cliché that “overstates intelligence and thus minimizes grit, persistence, and work ethic.” Sure, work smart, but you’re still going to have to work hard.
So I’ve been pondering one question over the past week: What does it mean to work hard in preparing a Bible study?
Working harder does not equate longer hours. Or harder hours.
Working hard is striving for excellence. And followers of Christ have a mandate to strive for excellence.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Col. 3:23).
I want to please Christ in everything I do—including the quality of my Bible study preparation. And if I am not submitting my best work—if I am not striving for excellence—can I say I am truly pleasing Him?
Lynn Pryor is a team leader for adult resources at Lifeway. He and his wife, Mary, lead a Bible study group for young adults and have survived raising two sons to adulthood. A graduate of Southwestern Seminary, Lynn has previously pastored and served churches in Texas. Follow him on his blog at lynnhpryor.com.