The Law of the Teacher
A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40).
In Luke 6, Jesus gave this message on the plain, after He selected his inner circle of twelve disciples. The “class” convened, it was time for the first “lecture”. But the disciples were not given the luxury of merely listening to lectures and smiling sagely back at their master; Christ had higher expectations for them: their complete transformation. The students would one day be teachers themselves; teachers who served the Great Teacher.
The call to teaching was not limited to the disciples. Nor is it limited to a few individuals in each church. Did you know Scripture teaches that all believers are to be teachers? The author of Hebrews laments in Hebrews 5:12, saying the believers “should in fact be teachers by this time, you need someone to teach you the beginning elements of God’s utterances.” Paul adds in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace”. If you are a mature Christian, you are called to instruct others in the faith. You are to seek out and teach other believers, so that they may grow in the faith.
How can you do this? Good teaching is not mere technique—you cannot press button “A” and flip switch “Z” and watch as the student turns “on” like a robot and demonstrates mastery of the material. Good teaching requires the teacher to be a man or woman of integrity and requires the teacher to connect with the student. Good teaching requires the teacher to grow.
The Law of the Teacher is simple: “If you stop growing today, you stop teaching tomorrow”. Howard Hendricks’ admonition in his book Teaching to Change Lives has been life-changing for me. I am effective only to the degree that I am changing and growing. If I am not changing or growing, I cripple my effectiveness.
How is a teacher to grow? A teacher should grow intellectually (mentally), spiritually, relationally, emotionally, and physically. A Christian educator will not grow properly without growing in all these areas. What does this look like? That depends on your individual strengths and inclinations. You may find these questions helpful; if these do not apply to your situation, brainstorm a few of your own questions for each category:
What am I reading? What can I read to broaden my horizons? What would I like to learn about next?
How familiar am I with Scripture? What are the parts of the Bible with which I am least familiar? How can I best put the lesson of this passage into practice? How can I serve others?
How are my relationships with others? What can I do to repair damaged or strained relationships? Do any of my “scars” prevent or discourage me from connecting with other Christians in a Godly manner?
How am I doing emotionally? Am I dealing with all my emotions in a biblical manner? What are some of my struggles in this area?
How am I doing physically? How can I better improve my health and physical fitness? Does my diet need to change? Should I consider a different form of exercise?
Just as Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and men, so too, we must grow as teachers. We must take the call to teaching as seriously as Christ took it. For too long, Christian education has been playing “keep up” with its secular counterpart—and secular educators have more stringent requirements in many capacities than do their peers in Christian education. Let us make Christian education synonymous with “excellence in education” for the glory of God.