Why I Don’t Teach Sunday School . . . or . . . Finding My Yes

Gina Butz expectations, grace, identity 8 Comments

Why I won't teach Sunday School . . . or . . . finding my yes

photo by Jorigė Kuzmaitė

You will never see me teaching Sunday School to children.

It took me years to be able to say that without embarrassment. What kind of person isn’t willing to teach children? Does Gina not like children? Does she not see the great potential in shepherding young souls? These are the questions I was sure people would ask.

When my kids were little, and someone stood up front at church to talk about how important children’s ministry is (I swear in the background I could hear Whitney Houston singing, “I believe the children are our future . . .”) I would sink down in my seat, refusing to make eye contact, feeling terrible.

Then, one day, it hit me, “I am not called to this.” And suddenly I was free. I felt like Phoebe, in the pilot episode of Friends:

Learning to say yes to the right things

I don’t want to because it’s not what I’m supposed to do. I am called to other activities, things that you probably don’t want to do. I know this, because often when I tell people what I enjoy doing, they get a look on their face like they just smelled something weird. They would hate what I love. And that is as it should be. We weren’t all given the same passions or gifts. How boring would that be? And ineffective. This isn’t Divergent. Five factions isn’t going to cut it.

Since coming back to the States, I have had opportunities to minister in a variety of ways unavailable to me overseas, which is fabulous. What’s hard is being discerning about what I should and shouldn’t do.

At first, I felt I should say yes to everything because if I didn’t they might stop offering. Over time I’ve learned that when I say no to less ideal opportunities, it leaves space to pursue that which I love. God knows the good way I should walk, and He can guide me to the best yeses. There is great freedom and joy in knowing that I am learning to give my time to what I am created to do, rather than just doing what I see, or what is asked of me. I want to give my energy to the activities God has for me, not what others want me to do.

Also important is knowing that, in saying no, I am leaving space for someone who truly IS called to do that. And I hope she does. She probably will, because she wants to say yes. And I will say yes somewhere else. There, we will both find joy and life.

So go ahead, ask me to teach Sunday School. I will politely decline and feel no remorse. It’s just not my calling.

What about you? What are you saying yes to today?


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 Related posts:

Stand at the Crossroads

Learning to Respect My Limits

Comments 8

  1. I love this post. One thing that you are missing though is the way that saying yes when you shouldn’t or don’t want to can hurt the ministry. If you say yes to teaching Sunday School when it isn’t your calling, you’ll quickly grow to consider it a chore. And the kiddos can sense that. Adults can too. I was once in a small group and the leader had no desire or calling to lead. It was painfully obvious to all in the group.

    Like you, I have no problem saying no to things that are not my calling. What I have been struggling with lately is having to say no to things that I want to do b/c I am fulfilling my calling of becoming a doctor. At first it was really hard to say no, but the more I let go and realized that I had said yes to His call to be doctor, the more I realized that studying and working is an act of service and worship.

    And for the record…I teach Kindergarten Sunday school and it is the best part of my week! But it is definitely a calling!

  2. I’m so glad I found this post! I too do not feel called to teach children’s Sunday school! I have managed to write a gracious letter to an elder’s wife and declined her request. I feel that I’m called more toward hospitality and encouraging the body of Christ. Thank you for making me not feel guilty about my decision.

    1. Cathy – I’m glad you found it too, and encouraged that it can take away guilt. I hope you find a place where you can use your gifts in hospitality and encouragement!

  3. I was volunteered to teach Sunday school and do not want to. I do not have small children and do not feel it in my heart but feel guilty saying no. I attend a small church and feel that members will push me to try it since they already put me on the schedule. I feel terrible about what to do or say.

    1. Penny – I’m sorry you’re in that situation! My hope is that you would be able to say to leadership, “I want to serve, and I know this is a need, but I know this isn’t the best place for me.” Is there some other role that you do feel led to do? Maybe there’s someone serving elsewhere who would trade places with you. Blessings!

  4. I think that maybe it’s easier to choose your yeses and your nos when you do have a clear set of giftings and callings. I often feel like I’m good at and enjoy much more than the time and space in life allows me to do, and those nos are much harder to say.

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