Staying Faithful

Image of ELderly man reading Bible  at night

Several weeks ago I wrote a very popular post entitled How A Sunday School Teacher Changed My Life.  It was a collection of leadership principles I learned from my high school Sunday School teacher, Lenis Black.

Through a series of events, I was reconnected with Mr. Black after 25 years and as a result, my family had breakfast with this wonderful man this morning.  Since teaching my friends and I in the early 80s, Mr. Black has been teaching the Men’s Class for the last 30 YEARS!!!  Prior to teaching us, his faithful service at Acworth United Methodist Church stretches back to the late 60s – an amazing stretch of over 40 years.

In this world of minimal commitment that is internally focused, I had to find out from this man what it takes to have that level of steadfastness and commitment to others for that length of time.  Here are the thoughts from Mr. Black that all leaders can learn from this:

  1. The Influence of His Mother – Prior to his dad becoming a Christian, his mother made his father in 1947 drop him of at Sunday School every Sunday.  Ironically, it was my mother who started taking me to church.
  2. The Influence of His Father – Once his dad become a Christian, Charlie Black modeled servant behavior by being Lenis’s Sunday School teacher during his high school years. 
  3. Someone Asked Him To Teach – Easily, the #1 reason people volunteer is because someone asked them to.  A gentleman named Roy Owen asked Mr. Black to help with the  Senior High in the late 60s.  He’s been teaching ever since.
  4. Relationships – The #2 reason people volunteer is they are looking for friends.  Mr. Black has developed tremendously deep-rooted friendships through the years.  A friend of his often says “You can quit when we tell you that you can.”
  5. Calling – For Mr. Black, teaching is a calling and he operates within his spiritual giftedness.  Quitting is not an option.  As he told me “You don’t retire from serving the Lord.” 
  6. People Matter – I was amazed that Mr. Black told me individual stories of students in his classes over the years.  He truly saw his students, people like me, as a sacred trust.
  7. Preparation – A portion of each day is dedicated to quiet solitude preparing for the next Sunday’s class.
  8. Life’s Issues – Though he has a lesson plan, lessons are customized each week to address the needs and issues of those attending his class.  This creativity and relevance ensures the preparation and lessons do not become stale.  

We started discussing the challenges young people face today.  He said “Brian, I tell people often ‘Don’t give up on your children.'”  He then said something to me I’ll never forget.  “You know Brian, we (church leaders) used to worry about what direction you would go in (during high school).”

I am a blessed man.  Jesus Christ changed my life and gave me direction.  Thank you Lenis Black for your faithful service and pointing at-risk, marginal people like myself toward Him.

Leaders, I learned a lot from this great man today.  What do you think of his comments?

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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.

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