“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” John 16:12
Having successfully weaved my way through 13 years of public school and 5 years of college I look back and can see so many of my teachers’ faces. Each face that passes through my memory comes with its own set of feelings. The teacher who bored me to death in basic high school science, the chemistry teacher who explained chemical components through ballet moves, the college humanities professor who seemed to feel teaching was beneath him, and the hard-nosed journalism professor who demanded perfection and awarded it handsomely.
We all are the recipients of teaching in some form or another – life skills, religious, formal education, even hobbies. It’s interesting then, that Jesus chose this method, being a teacher, as His style to bring the message of salvation to us all.
“But having considered the whole situation (how to best approach the world), he said, “No, I will not do what others have done, I will choose the slow and toilsome way; I will not cut the knot, I will untie it; I will not push the world, I will draw it; I will not subdue the world by military methods, I will heal it by the sympathy of human hearts.” Charles Jefferson, The Character of Jesus
On paper, His methodology was sure to fail. By the end of His time on Earth Jesus could count about 120 disciples. You would expect more from the Son of God. This small cadre of devout followers was to spread the message throughout the entire world? And yet, here we sit thousands of years later reading His Words. Soaking up His teachings. Setting our lives out each day on the path He has instructed. No one in the history of the world has had as much influence from so little time teaching.
But Jesus was no ordinary teacher of course. He perfected the art of being a patient teacher. He didn’t start out putting fliers around town calling the masses to a class on How to Avoid Adultery or the 10 Steps to Servanthood. He quietly began calling individuals. And sitting with them in one-on-one mentoring. He took our first three Jesus Mindset traits – loving friend, humble servant, confident warrior – and used them to tailor His words to each person’s needs.
One of my favorite teaching moments comes when the respected Pharisee, Nicodemus, came to Jesus secretly one night to learn more about Jesus’ message.
“ “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:1-8
He then goes on to slightly rebuke this great “teacher” of Israel for not understanding the true message of God’s will. And a rebuke is fair, given the man’s standing and role. Yet when Jesus talked to everyday people, He tailored His teaching to their station. And through watching His behavior with others or through the use of everyday circumstances He gave time for the “ah ha” moments to sink in.
All successful and great pastors are, of course, of some teaching variety. If you read or follow on social media or podcasting various pastors you will find, however ones who want you to understand the many almost hidden aspects of the Bible. It is the “teaching” pastor that emphasizes the context of a passage and the connections to other places within the Bible. They craftily lay out the message they wish to get across and slowly bring you through each point, each verse, each Bible story so you see the big picture of God at work. For when we know of the 1,000s of connections from story to book, prophecies that came true, and the culture behind certain actions we get a greater understanding of God’s character. They know their audiences – the novice Christian, the well-versed, the Bible educated and even the seeking.
This is not to say that other pastoral styles are any less in quality or success. There are pastors who have more of a counseling nature. Or, like in our previous Jesus Mindset post on being a loving friend, ones like Max Lucado who remind us through various Bible lessons of God’s love.
And for the “regular” Christian we too will approach the world with slightly different styles when spreading the Good News of the gospel. The underlining Jesus trait however, is the desire to impart the majesty and glory of God and the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.
This week I’ll highlight a young pastor who is teacher through and through. You’ll notice I said young. A teacher of the Word comes in many forms – not just old wizened ones! And we’ll also delve into Bible studies and groups, leading them and what you should be getting out of them.
We are all teachers in one form or another. Whether we teach through example or through words, there are always people watching and listening. We may not all reach the point where we feel comfortable teaching others the Word but with patience and diligence, we can all get to a place where we can be knowledgeable enough to contribute to others’ learning. It is our responsibility as members of Jesus’ cadre of students – grown from the 120 to millions – to continue His slow and steady work of bringing more people to the wisdom and love of God.
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Matthew 13:10-12