A supporting congregation had a teacher-appreciation dinner Aug. 18 after the Sunday evening service. We were invited to attend. It wasn’t my moment, but I thought of all the teachers of Bible school, the teachers of evangelistic studies, those who teach to encourage brethren, and all those who have been given the gift of teaching. What would I like to say to them if given the chance? Three things came immediately to mind.
#1. Take the long view
Look beyond the frustrations of the moment, to see the long-term effect you are having, and even the eternal impact you are causing. The most rambunctious child may be the one you have the greatest influence upon. The most resistant student may well be the person whose heart finally opens completely to receive the gospel. While they will listen, keep teaching.
You never know who will finally respond to your teaching. I recall a couple we taught the gospel some years ago. He accepted everything we said and agreed with every lesson. The wife was the resistant one. After one difficult study, I told my wife that I thought it might have been our last study with them, since the wife did not accept well what she had heard. But when it came time to decide, she — not he — was the one who gave her life over to the Lord and was baptized. Her husband responded only some years later.
We tend to focus upon immediate results. That is not bad in and of itself, but we cannot let lack of results discourage us. Let us sow the seed. God will provide the harvest. Focus on the task at hand, of teaching, and leave the results with God, in his time.
#2. Stay close to the text of Scripture
The ultimate power to change people is in the Word. You are teaching your hearers to know God and do his will. Always keep the Bible at hand.
- Don’t paraphrase it — read it.
- Don’t assume people know it — explain it.
- Don’t make it theoretical — apply it.
- Don’t apologize for not following it — live it and put yourself forth as an example to be followed.
Teachers, of all people, ought to apply the phrase, “It’s not about me.” We hide behind the Word of God. We want God to be glorified. We want to shine our light, but that light will focus upon the salvation that God has provided. Let us make every word of ours rise from the text of the Word of God. In one true sense, we have nothing to say. We are messengers who pass on the message we have be given. That message is the Bible.
#3. Imitate Jesus the Teacher
The Gospel of Mark reveals Jesus as the Master Teacher. Study his content, his methods, his motivations, his objectives. Let his teaching teach us how to teach. What we lack, Jesus supplies. With his gospel as our textbook, and his Spirit as our power, we have all we need to be effective teachers.
Jesus’ teaching rose from his relationship with the Father. Ours also rises from our relationship with the Father and the Son. We “were called into fellowship with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord” 1 Corinthians 1.9. It is that calling which we reproduce in our teaching.
As teacher, Jesus sacrificed to bring us to God. We do not impart mere information. We share life in Christ. We enter into Christ’s sufferings for others. Just as we have relationship with God, we call others into relationship with his people. We are purified in order to participate in brotherly love, 1 Peter 1.22. Our mission is to show the way, through teaching, to the proper obedient response, so that all may enter God’s family and find there our purpose and fulfillment.
We’re all teachers
We may not all have the gift of teaching, but we are all teachers in one way or another. Whether in a structured setting or in conversations with friends, let us honor the Lord Jesus Christ who gives the precious eternal gospel into our hands. We are God’s agents so that when we teach, it may be said, “And they will all be taught by God” John 6.45.