Thursday, September 6, 2012

Who is paying the tuition?

"He learned his lesson, 
just sorry that others had to pay his tuition"
---Debbie Viguies, Lie Down in Green Pastures

While reading, Lie Down in Green Pastures: Book #3 in The Psalm 23 Mysteries, the above statement struck me hard. A person in the story caused a large group of people to get hurt unintentionally. Many people probably flew right past those words. Not me. They hit me hard. 

Because in my life, there have been hard lessons and others paid the tuition.

My Mom bought me a copy of the companion guide for Bill Hybels book, "Holy Discontent." She bought it at one of those 'dollar stores.' It amazes and delights us when we can find a Christian author's book at a good price. On the other hand, as a writer it saddens me too. Especially, when they are relegated to the dollar store.  

The guide is "Living and Leading from Your Holy Discontent." I read the book, "Holy Discontent: Fueling the Fire That Ignites Personal Vision" a few years back. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek's 'seeker-friendly' services have always rubbed me wrong. But that doesn't mean, he has never written anything worth reading.  Then in 2007, Willow Creek apologized for the way they did church for 30 years. You can read more about that here and here

"The Seeker service church model produces numbers not disciples," states Willow Creek Pastor. 

This brings us back to the concept of learning the lesson but other paying the tuition. Willow Creek learned a lesson after 30 years of doing church that the seeker service church model was a mistake.  How many people over those 30 years paid the tuition for this lesson?

However, Willow Creek is not alone. There are other churches and authors out there who, I believe, will be learning a lesson while others pay the tuition. There is one that specifically comes to my mind. This is why as leaders, we must be careful, especially with today's technology advances. What we say, write or speak can easily be heard, read or seen by hundreds or thousands? 

Photo Credit: Dew Photography

Does this mean we submit to the fear of being wrong? 
No, it just means we need to be diligent. 

After teaching a once popular teacher's DVD series, it was shown that the person made a habit of teaching folklore and traditions that could not be proven as fact. It became necessary for me to step up and repent for trusting the person on the DVD wholeheartedly. My students paid the tuition for my learning the lesson of not blindly following a popular teacher. 

 Do you have a student that questions everything all the time? Do not be annoyed by that student. Instead encourage them to keep questioning. Empower them to be able to dig into their Bibles and test what is being taught. This student is a gift from the Lord for two reasons: 

1. They will make you a better teacher: When you know this person is going to be asking questions, you will study harder and trust God more. 
2. This person will spur other students to study their lesson and be prepared for class. 

The end product is not just a good class but people walking away with changed lives.  

I shared this scenario in the past, yet feel led to share again here. Many years ago, I worked with the middle schoolers at our church. This group of young people would never bring their bibles to class. Prior to me teaching them, they were given hand-outs for their lessons. 

Every week, the same scenario played out: 
Me: Where are your Bibles? 

Then the excuses would start pouring out: 
"I forgot it"
"At home, in my room"
"We wouldn't need them if you would provide hand-outs"

The last one really burned me up. I would spend time every week telling them the importance of having your own Bible and testing what is being taught to you. I would share with them about Jim Jones and the mass suicide. 

I would end by saying, "Don't be like the people with Jim Jones and drink the Kool-Aid.

To the reply of, "We are not that stupid, dumb, etc...."

That is how my plan was hatched with the help of a wise friend. When talking with her, she commented, "Why don't you show them how vulnerable they truly are?"

It all started by giving them their wish...hand-outs for class. 
If you could have seen their excitement. Finally, Miss Dawn understood and got with the program. They had won. Hand-outs for all. Now for class to begin.

Photo Credit: More Good Foundation (Creative Commons)

We were studying about Mary and Martha that night. What the students didn't know is I had changed the scripture a little before creating their hand-outs. It was a small change but still a change. I swapped Mary and Martha in the story. 
After giving them time to work on their hand-outs, we started going over them: 

Question 1: Who sat at Jesus' feet while her sister worked in the kitchen? 
Class answers, "Martha.
Me: "Wrong. It was Mary." 
Class: "No, it says right here...Martha sat at Jesus' feet.
Me: "Really?"

Can I be honest? It took more questions than I thought it would, before any became suspicious. 
All of their answers were wrong. 
It baffled them. They were getting the answers off of their hand-out. 

"Maybe, someone might want to check a Bible", I mentioned with a grin. 

Three or four jumped up to get the Bibles that were normally stored on the shelf. However, I had removed them before class.  

"Where are the Bibles?"

I just kept smiling. 

A couple students pulled out their own Bibles and all the others huddled around them. It was a sight while they worked on finding the story in their Bibles. 

Upon finding the passage, they replied with a sense of satisfaction:

 "Hey! Miss Dawn, your hand-out is wrong. You mixed up the names of the ladies."

This is when I replied, "No! You all just drank the Kool-aid!"

As it sunk in, their faces changed. Some smiled and others got angry. 
Each one remembered our numerous discussions of Jim Jones and the mass suicide. 
Don't know about Jim here.

I had a great love for each of them and felt it was my responsibility to make sure they learned an important lesson. As a matter of fact, this was the reason for fooling them...because I loved them enough to have them mad at me for tricking them to get my point across. 

Then I presented each of them with a sticker badge to wear which said:

Photo Credit: Dew Photography

In the grand scope of things, if my lesson helped my students understand the importance of testing a teacher, then maybe they it will protect them from paying the tuition for another's lesson.

P.S. My daughter was in this class and she was the angriest with me for tricking them. She refused to wear her sticker. 

Have you ever learned a hard lesson and others had to pay the tuition? Would you be willing to teach a lesson like mine with the middle schoolers? Why or Why not?  Share in the comments. 


  1. WOW Dawn, what a great lesson and how insightful of you and your friend. I have always taught my children to go to God's word and gain understanding through it rather than the guy/gal in the pulpit or at a revival. It is so important our children have a clear undertanding of God's word coupled with a praise/prayer relationship with our heavenly Father.
    Lori Robbins

    1. Thanks Lori. Even though it was so long ago, I can remember how my mad my daughter was at me.

  2. Great lesson, Dawn, very creative and meaningful! Love how you connected it with the quote.

  3. Thank you Julie. It was one of those that things were that quote wouldn't let go.


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