The strength of Sunday school has always been in its leadership model. The idea that oil tycoons, entrepreneurs and U.S. Presidents can and have taught Sunday school is one of the great strengths of the movement. In fact, without people volunteering their time to teach on Sunday morning the success of Sunday school may not have been as great. Throughout its history Sunday school has featured some extraordinary people who have volunteered their time to teach.
John D. Rockefeller was the founder of Standard Oil Company, which was the largest oil refiner in the world. His first job was being an assistant bookkeeper when he was sixteen years old and even at such a young age he gave 6% of his earnings to charity. By the time that he was twenty years old that number increased to 10% of his total income. John was a faithful member of his Baptist church and volunteered his time to teach Sunday school. He often credited his business success to his strong religious beliefs. He strongly believed that his money came from God and that it was his responsibility to use the resources given to him by God in a responsible way, being a good steward of all that God gave him was a lifelong mission.
Another famous person that has taught Sunday school is S. Truett Cathy. He is the founder of Chick-fil-A, a fast food restaurant chain. He has taught Sunday school for over 50 years at his Baptist church and has gone on record saying that his guide-book for life has been the Bible. He strongly believes that his business exists “To glorify God and being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us” and has included that quote in his official corporate purpose statement. His strong religious convictions led him to start a policy that all of his restaurants are closed on Sundays, so that his employees can spend time with their families and attend church.
Perhaps the most famous Sunday school teacher of this era is former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. He is known as a devout Christian and has taught Sunday school since he was 18 years old. He has fought for equality all over the world and has contributed time and resources to many Christian organizations. Even when he was President of the U.S. he took time each day to pray, and openly confessed that Jesus Christ was the driving force in his life.
Surprised? People don’t often get a glimpse of the serious side of Stephen Colbert. He grew up in the Catholic faith. When he was 11 years old, 2 of his ten siblings and his father were killed in a plane crash. His mother taught him not to be bitter and realize everyone suffers. Besides being a Sunday school teacher, he has a reputation for interjecting religious beliefs into conversation. In an interview with NPR he discussed going to his daughter’s first communion, saying that it was a great opportunity to, “Speak simply and plainly about your faith without anybody saying, ‘Yeah, but do you believe that stuff?’ which happens a lot in what I do.”
American author, John Grisham, is known mostly for his best-selling legal thrillers, but he talks openly about his conversion to Christianity. He confirmed his faith publically when he was eight years old. From stories heard as a child in Sunday school to becoming a Christian to going on mission trips to teaching Sunday school with his wife, John Grisham seems to have come full circle.
These men believe/d that their faith was vital to their success. All of them believe/d strongly that it was their duty to help others. Their desire to live out their convictions helped contribute to society. The success of Sunday school does not depend on famous men volunteering their time on Sunday morning to teach, but it serves as a great testimony to the Sunday school model and its overall effectiveness.
By: Holly Watson