Probably the worst piece of advice I’ve ever heard someone give a storyteller is to just be yourself when you’re teaching. The thing that makes this advice so terrible is that’s it’s half right.
God made each of us with a unique personality. Your storytelling style is going to be different than mine. The way you deliver a lesson probably won’t look exactly like the teacher in the next room, and that’s a good thing. That part of the advice is accurate.
However, I’ve seen lots of people get up to teach kids and just be themselves, and guess what? They were pretty boring. Most of us don’t naturally communicate in a way that is engaging to kids. So forget the advice to just be yourself. What you have to be is the most entertaining version of yourself.
Be you, but be engaging.
Don’t worry. Everyone has an entertaining version of themselves. Even you. The trick is you just have to tap into it.
We see this every day when someone starts talking about their passion. Their voice gets louder and they talk faster. Their face lights up and they become more animated. They gesture with enthusiasm. Their body language tells me this is the thing they’re more interested in than anything else on the planet.
It doesn’t matter how laid back or quiet a person is, if you can get them talking about something they love, they immediately become more interesting.
So how about you? What do you get super excited about when it comes up in conversation? Your family? A sport’s team? A favorite movie?
Imagine yourself when you’re talking about that thing. How does your voice sound? How much are you gesturing? What kind of facial expressions are you using? That’s the version of you to bring to your teaching.
As Christian communicators, God’s Word should bring us to life. When we step onto stage to tell a story or teach a lesson, kids should hear the passion in our voices, see our faces light up and read in our body language that the Bible is the most exciting thing ever.
That starts with us getting excited about the Bible ourselves. When we care about what we’re teaching, it bubbles over in the way we teach. Next, we have to learn to use our voice, our face and our body intentionally to make our stories fun and engaging.
Practice your next lesson in front of the mirror or if you’re really feeling brave, video yourself teaching. Do you look excited about the Bible? Is your enthusiasm contagious? If not, think about what needs to change. Something on the inside, like your passion for the sharing God’s word? Or something on the outside like your voice, facial expressions or body language, the way you’re sharing the word?
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