I don’t know about you, but I learn the most from others who consistently model good behavior, confidence in what they say, and competence in what they do. As a teacher in many areas of life—my home, my work and my church—I strive to learn from the best. Personally, I can’t think of any greater teacher than Jesus. Even if a person hasn’t come to believe in His deity, I’m confident he or she can learn a lot from this master teacher. And considerable more if he comes to know him spiritually.
I want to invite you to join me in this series, Teach Like Jesus Taught. Everyone is a teacher somewhere in life. You may teach in a formal setting or an informal setting. Jesus did both. These principles can transform us into better teachers.
I will try to keep these posts concise, so let’s start with the first two principles.
- Jesus taught in community. I don’t recall ever reading about Jesus scheduling a class over at Jerusalem University or giving a keynote speech at a Galilean Conference. I’m pretty sure he never limited himself to delivering one sermon a week or had a talk radio show. Jesus taught everywhere he went. He taught on hill sides, on a boat, in public squares, in synagogues, in the home of a tax collector, beside a well, around a campfire, and while nailed to a cross. He spent at least three years hanging out with twelve men, teaching them, mentoring them, correcting them, and ultimately, sending them. Jesus didn’t just do engagements; he did life with others. In my opinion, this is what moves a teacher from good to great.
- Jesus taught with authority. In my present job, I constantly evaluate and coach corporate instructors. I’ve seen some great ones and some not-so-great ones. Being an authority on something is the starting point for any effective teacher. You have to know what you are talking about. Notice I didn’t say it was everything, but not having this can damage a teacher’s credibility from the beginning.
Many churches today downplay the need for teachers, and choose rather to use the word facilitator. I personally think that is a mistake. People want to learn and grow spiritually from the best. They want to trust in the people instructing them. You don’t go to a doctor or hire a lawyer who only knows as much as you do. You go to someone who knows a lot more than you do.
People want to be taught by those who have gone before them—those who’ve experienced the ups and downs of life. They want to hear good war stories. They want to know that their teacher has spent quality time in the Book. They don’t want just your information. They also want to see that you believe what you teach—you live by it.
Jesus taught with such authority. It gave people confidence and caused them to really focus on what He was saying. None of us attain perfection in this life, but the Bible consistently makes the case for not putting people in leadership roles too soon. And a teacher is certainly a leadership role.
I applaud my own church and other churches that look for these qualities in their teachers. What do you think? What other ways can these two qualities encourage learning and spiritual growth?