How A Sunday School Teacher Changed My Life

I don’t know where I would be without a man named Lenis Black.  With the trajectory I was on, I’d probably wind up being the guy in the picture above.  Who is Lenis Black you ask?  Lenis was my first Sunday School teacher when I began attending church in 1980.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him today.

Earlier this afternoon, I was talking to a very successful church leader who mentioned to me the lifelong impact that her first Sunday School teacher had on her as a young child.  Her comments caused me to go back 30 years and remember the incredible impact Lenis had on my life: 

  1. Stability – After my parents divorced, mom began taking her three children to church hoping the environment of Acworth United Methodist Church would provide her children some level of stability.  Thanks to Lenis and others, mom was right.
  2. Made Church Interesting – Lenis was a great teacher, humourous, and very interesting.  He talked about things teenage boys appreciated and made the Bible come alive.
  3. Engaged My Life – Lenis had a son who was one of my best friends.  This was a good excuse for him to periodically show up at school to simply see how I was doing.
  4. Called Me – The thing I remember most about Lenis was when called me during the Georgetown vs Villanova showdown in January 1984.  There was no agenda as he was just investing in my life.  Funny thing, I remember every aspect of that phone call to this very day.
  5. Modeled The Life Of A Christian Man – The reality is that when a divorce happens, a void is created in the child’s life.  It is simply unavoidable.  The void of a Godly man was filled by Lenis.  He gave me a picture of what a man sold out to Christ looked like.
  6. Exposed Me To Church Leadership – Shortly after becoming a Christian, Lenis walked me into Senior Pastor Jim Lowery’s office to pray before a service.  Due to my naivety, I had no idea what was going on or what to pray.  However, that single decision to have me in that setting propelled me on a path that I’m still on to this day.
  7. Generosity and Sacrifice – Lenis taught our class for my four years of high school.  Each year he wrestled with whether he should return or not.  He always did and my life was never the same.

Many of you reading this post work with children.  You may periodically wonder if it’s worth it.  Using my life as a case study I’ll tell you this, you may never know until you get to Heaven what God will do in the life of that young child you see each week.  Who knows, he/she may grow to be someone who helps churches and writes about leadership. 

Lenis, I will spend every day for eternity in Heaven thanking you for caring about me.  I’ll never forget your investment in my life.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

6 Responses to “How A Sunday School Teacher Changed My Life”

  1. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

    • Thank you for your kind and generous words. I’m sure with readers like you I’m headed for a higher ranking! Feel free to forward my posts to anyone you think would possibly benefit.

      I trust your funding projects for women are going well.

  2. Gary,

    Thank you for your story. What a great encouragment! God’s grace and His plan for our life is beyond comprehension.

    Also, I didn’t know you were part of Campus Crusade for Christ. My pastor is Crawford Loritts who spent many years with Campus on their Board as well. I will check this weekend to see if he knows you.

    Take care,

  3. What a fine piece, Brian. I’m measuring that by the emotions and memories it roused. Sounds like your Lenis was my Don. Don wasn’t a SS teacher, but he took over for Inez, my SS teacher between 12 and 14. She was a died-in-the-wool Pentacostal, utterly committed to Jesus and His Book. She was the first to rescue me. One “angel unawares” was not enough, apparently, because in an angel baton pass, Don showed up and kept showing up after a two hour drive a couple of times a month. I went to the earliest days of Campus Crusade for Christ (as a high school student), an organization I became a staff member of 20 years later. We went to all-night prayer meetings, did some hitchiker witnessing (remember when there were hitchikers?). He had me reading We Would See Jesus, Calvary Road, and Christian Perfection. Why God does some of the wonderful things He does is a mystery. Why He does the most extaordinary things, like granting me such attention and favor through Inez and Don and others, all unmerited, is way beyond comprehension; Grace always is.

  4. GaryGENDAD RT @BrianKDodd: How My Sunday School Teacher Changed My Life : for me: Inez Edwards. See my Twt


  1. Top 10 Most Popular Posts of August 2010 « Brian Dodd On Leadership - 09/01/2010

    […] July I wrote How A Sunday School Teacher Changed My Life.  As a result of that post, I have been asked to return to the church where I grew up and speak on […]

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