A foundational principle of Bible study is that the Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our life. If you believe this truth, it will radically change the way you teach. Here are a few concepts with questions for you to consider.
1. Most teachers tend to teach the way they were taught. Does this sound correct to you? How do you teach which is similar to how you were taught and how have you set a different direction? How much of your experience and teaching is information-based to increase knowledge?
2. Teachers are often evaluated by the feeling one has or by some new insight gained at the end of the session. How important to you are stories and illustrations? How important is hearing some new idea? Think back to a teacher you admire and what made that person admirable?
3. If teachers are not trying to solely inform, they are usually trying to motivate to action. Some teachers can naturally connect with and engage the emotions. How much of your teaching includes touching the heart as well as the mind? How well do people tend to respond? Is there evidence that emotional responses result in life change?
4. Great teachers are most committed to facilitate learning. This is especially true with adults who usually choose what they want to learn and certainly choose what they want to apply. When you have taught someone, do they primarily comment on some new insight you shared or how enjoyable it was to sit under your teaching? How many people tell you that they have been challenged to think more deeply on what you taught or to adjust their behavior?
Any concordance search will show that Jesus was a recognized teacher in his day by the religious community as well as His Disciples. In fact, over the last 2000 years people from all religious backgrounds acknowledge Jesus as a great Teacher. What made him so great? In Mark 1:22, 27 we learn that Jesus’ teaching was different and with authority. What can we learn from this statement? We will never have His inherent authority but He did delegate teaching authority to us as His disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). How can we best steward our teaching responsibility? Here are a few suggestions that seem consistent with how Jesus taught:
- Seek to understand your audience of one or many so your style and content is relevant.
- Give only enough content for people to process so they can draw their own conclusions.
- Make time for reflection and dialogue during or immediately after your teaching session.
- Invite and expect people to share something they learned that has adjusted their thinking or has potential to adjust their behavior.
- Make yourself available to help people work through incomplete understanding.
Jesus taught authoritatively and His followers eventually lived by His teaching even to the point of death. Such learning engaged both the mind and the heart and resulted in changed lives. Never be satisfied teaching content that people won’t remember or motivating people who might immediately respond but without follow through. Be set on facilitating the kind of learning that results in dynamic and sustainable change.
Please note the word of caution from James 3:1 that teachers are held to a high standard. We as teachers should teach with the gravity it deserves. Also, see blog #40 for a reflection on Paul as a great teacher.
Next blog: Jesus Developed Leaders by Coaching