Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. James 3, verse 1.
Happy Halloween on that thought. I’m glad I’m not a teacher; I don’t have the patience for it. No, I’m not putting teachers on a pedestal. I don’t want to talk about the myriad of problems with American public education and, yes, some of those problems are the fault of teachers. Still, it’s undeniable that teaching others is a calling that requires patience, devotion, and understanding on levels that I simply don’t possess.
James is glad I’m not a teacher too; at least that’s one way I’m reading the verse. Teachers should be held to a higher standard because God does. Teachers are responsible for passing on (as Paul said) what is of first and foremost importance; what we need to make it in this world. It’s debatable whether or not this includes algebra. Those who teach are in the spotlight and rightfully so because shaping the hearts and minds of others impacts the world for years to come. What would you say to the teachers who taught Hitler, Charles Manson, or Joseph Kony? Or the teachers who taught Ghandi, Billy Graham, and Martin Luther King? Whether we realize it or not, those folks impacted those impactful minds to do things that impacted the world in ways we still talk about. That’s more responsibility than I could bear 24/7. I’m glad I’m not a teacher.
…Except that you and I are teachers. If you’re a parent, you’re a teacher (and you teach more to your kids than any school ever will). If you’re a blogger, you’re teaching others. If you’re a manager at any task, your primary task is teaching and mentoring, NOT telling others what to do. If you’re a quiet follower, you’re a better teacher than I’ll ever be. Get the picture?
Those whose job it is to formally teach are and will be held to a standard that the rest of us don’t and won’t know. According to James (and thus Jesus), that’s how it should be. But don’t lose sight of the fact that you and I teach others in everything we do. Just the other day I was reading the text of my first book, Uncle Boo and Me, which is about my son’s invisible friend. I realize now all the things I was teaching my son in my absence and in my absence even when I was home. How he and Uncle Boo were reaching out to me; how they’re still teaching me good lessons today. We’re teaching in everything we do, even if we don’t get an apple on our desk. Never forget that.
Teacher Jesus, teach me today to be forgiving, listening, merciful, and compassionate. Nothing else I do in how I live my life will be more important than how I live and teach these things of You to others.
Who do you teach?
In what ways are you a teacher where you are?
Who taught you and what is most important about that?