As was suggested in the last blog, leaders are learners. It is equally true that leaders are teachers. Although not every leader has well-developed gifts and abilities to teach, teaching is the means for communicating all that is important. Just as there are multiple learning styles, there are multiple teaching styles. However one teaches, it is indispensable for leading well.
Paul is portrayed as an itinerant teacher in Acts. Probably his most extensive and intensive teaching took place when at the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9-10) in Ephesus over two and a half years. We know through his Epistles he was committed to teaching. Then, in Colossians 1:28 he seems to portray himself and other leaders as teaching every chance they get.
Great leaders must take time to organize their thoughts in ways so that they can communicate them clearly. Leadership author and executive Noel Tichy in The Leadership Engine says, “Simply put, if you aren’t teaching, you aren’t leading.” (p. 57) He goes on to clarify that “Winning leaders consciously think about their experiences. They roll them over in their minds, analyze them and draw lessons from them. They constantly update and refine their views as they acquire new knowledge and experience. And they store them in the form of stories that they use not only to guide their own decisions and actions, but also to teach and lead others. When you hear leaders talk about their lives, you learn their teachable points of view.” (p. 59)
When it comes to teaching biblical truth we must understand why we do so. Walt Hendrickson, in his excellent (but now out-of-print) book, Understand, clarifies succinctly why we teach: “The primary purpose of the Bible is to change our lives, not increase our knowledge.” (p. 34) Far too much teaching is for the sake of the teacher—to share how much he or she has learned. These teachers are often self- and content-centered. Great teachers facilitate learning. Such teachers are others- and learning-centered. As adult learning specialist Jane Vella says, “The professor must die!” By this she means that teachers must ensure that their goal revolves around the learner, not one’s skill or reputation.
Think for a moment. Write down the name of someone who taught you something significant about life or leadership. Next, what leadership lesson(s) did you learn? Then, how have you personally applied that teaching and what have you purposefully done to teach these lessons to others? If you cannot answer these questions, either the lesson or the teacher may not have been that significant.
By the time a person reaches mid-life, say in one’s 50s, there should be a set of core learning that rises above all others. These “life lessons or messages” are such that you can speak about them naturally, at a moments notice. You have key biblical passages that correlate. You have experiences that illustrate. In short, you can teach with credibility and authority.
- Have you ever taken the time to reflect upon your most significant life lessons and written them down?
- Have you invested worthy time to connect these lessons with biblical passages that clearly relate?
- Have you reflected on how these lessons impacted your life and put them in concise and transferable concepts?
- Have you connected illustrations to these lessons so to make them understandable and memorable?
For an enlightening study, consider the three to five core teachings of Jesus and Paul. What most oozed out of them when they taught? May we follow their leadership.
Next Blog: Paul Finished Well