Every teacher appreciates a prepared student. If you are given something to read, then read it. If you are given an outline, then go over it. Make a few notes, look up the scriptures cited, and list any questions that might have risen in your mind. The teacher may answer them in the class, but then again, s/he may not.
I usually write my own Bible class material, including scriptures to read and questions to answer. I try to design questions that will lead the students to their own discoveries. I know it has worked when they arrive excited, hardly able to contain themselves over the things they have learned and the ideas they have unearthed in all that digging. Usually those ideas are what I am aimed at, but we cannot get there if the preparation wasn’t done beforehand, and these women usually have. If we had to spend the time on the fundamentals for the unprepared, the excitement would die in those who have done the work. In fact, I usually continue on for the sake of the prepared. If someone is left behind because of their own laziness, why should the others suffer? Maybe they will do better the next time. Sometimes being a teacher means you must make hard decisions, and sometimes it means a little discipline toward the student. But I seldom have that problem due to these dedicated students.
As to those who do prepare but feel like they must have missed something: it may very well be the fault of the person who wrote the material—in this case, me. Sometimes a question is poorly worded. I know that despite copious and careful editing, I still cannot see every way that a question might be interpreted. So answer to the best of your ability—that’s what my ladies do. Why should you be embarrassed if it’s the questioner’s fault and not yours? I can guarantee you that even if you missed the point, you still learned something from reading the Word of God and thinking about it.
But there is an even more important preparation—an open mind. An openly skeptical student usually thinks he is keeping a teacher humble, or being careful with the truth, either of which excuses his behavior, to him anyway. What he’s really doing is hurting himself because he is refusing to consider anything he hasn’t already learned. Certainly a student should “beware of false teachers,” but everyone deserves a fair hearing. Skepticism has already judged and convicted before hearing a word. Any teacher who has spent hours preparing and dares to put himself in front of a group deserves better than that.
Especially in an ongoing class of busy women, teachers understand when preparation time is sometimes impossible. As a teacher whose lessons are more complicated than most, I understand better than most. So should the student stay away if she is not prepared?
Absolutely not. Many have come on anyway, and for that I thank them. If you have that open mindset, you can still learn. They always bring a pen and listen and write. If you have done this and still find yourself hopelessly lost, rather than delay the rest of the class, ask for a private session. I have held those more than once, and teachers should be happy to do it. But don’t ever deprive yourself of an hour of encouragement and exhortation with your sisters because you feel embarrassed. Have you caught onto this yet? Embarrassment will get in the way of your being a good student more than practically anything else. Don’t let the Devil have his way with you. You can still learn something, even if you have not prepared the lesson. Your mind will be stimulated to greater understanding and insights.
So here is your first lesson, care of my wonderful students: Prepare your lesson as well as you are able; prepare your mind every time.
…and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, Eph 6:15.