Teaching plays a part in every aspect of our lives, from learning to tie our shoes to finding the purpose of our lives. Our Creator tells us He has developed a plan for mankind includes us learning about Him and His ways. To help, He has placed a wonderful gift in His Church—teachers (Ephesians 4:11).
The Bible speaks of false teachers as well as teachers of good things. False teachers have caused much pain and suffering for mankind and good teachers have done the opposite. In a way, we are all teachers. The only question is: Are we beloved and cherished teachers of good—or teachers of falsehoods?
Teachers—good and bad
Jesus Christ placed a heavy responsibility upon His disciples to teach the people of God good things (John 21:15-17). That responsibility continues today.
Parents with a child in school rejoice when their child has a “good teacher.” A bad teacher can turn a student off for life. I taught chemistry and mathematics. When I found a student who said, “I can’t do math,” I tried to find out what experiences he or she had with teachers.
A good teacher will be able to reflect a love for learning to his students and will set a positive example, creating a desire to learn in students. A poor teacher can remove all the excitement, joy and potential a student may have.
In Matthew 5:19 Jesus states whoever does and teaches the commandments will be great in the Kingdom. Those are two qualifications of a good teacher—to believe and live by what he teaches. A good teacher must be a good example to the student. He, too, must be a student, and he must have a zeal and hunger for the things he teaches. He must recognize the value of what he is passing on to the students.
It has been said “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and “I would rather see a sermon than hear one.” These kinds of expressions reflect the need for a teacher to be true to his profession and to be honest and trustworthy in all things. Such a teacher is of great value. Paul warned Timothy about people “desiring to be teachers of the law” who do not understand what they say (1 Timothy 1:7). Those are poor teachers.
In Mark 10:17 Jesus was called “good Teacher.” Those who genuinely wanted to learn were met with a warm and quick response. Luke 11:1 relates the request of the disciples that Jesus should teach them to pray. These were fervent Jewish men. One would think they ought to know how to pray. But Jesus gladly taught them with no criticism.
He was a good teacher because He loved to teach and fully believed in the things He taught. He knew life would be much, much better for those who listened to Him, and He was dedicated to making their lives better. The tale of Martha and Mary reveals both a teacher who is loved and a student who thrills at the teaching that is given (Luke 10:38-42).
A teacher can have a strong influence on young minds and on all who listen. When it comes to spiritual teachings, there is a heavy responsibility we all ought to recognize. James said, “Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). He was referring to those who purported to teach the Word of God.
The responsibility for teaching God’s Word by our deeds as well as by our speech certainly is required of all parents by God.
In a sense all of God’s followers are teachers, if not by word, then by deeds. People expect when a person calls himself Christian, he or she will uphold a certain standard. Some who “ought to be teachers” need to learn the basics once again because they have become dull of hearing (Hebrews 5:12).
A good teacher is one who is also constantly learning. He is a good student as well as a teacher. It is by the consistent choice of living by our principles and upholding that which is noble and of value that we learn to discern both good and evil—and choose the good. We can trust in such a person.
Parents are teachers too
In an article I read recently, Charles Spurgeon told Christian parents: “Oh, fathers and mothers, the ruin of your children, or their salvation, will, under God, very much depend on you.”
It is true, our first and most important teachers are our parents. The responsibility for teaching God’s Word by our deeds as well as by our speech certainly is required of all parents by God. He has entrusted the baby’s mind to its parents, and designed us so that parents have a deep and fervent love for their children.
It is a little too strong to state that the child’s salvation depends on the parents, but it is correct to acknowledge the work of the parents has much to do with the mind-set and habits that their children form. Parents are the ones who ought to teach children to be obedient, patient, inquisitive and respectful.
Parents do differ in ability to teach, and thus each child will have a unique outlook on life. God does understand this and He takes upon Himself the ultimate and full responsibility for the salvation of each person. Even a child from a dysfunctional family will be loved and cared for by God. When the Bible says He wants “all” men to be saved, He means all (1 Timothy 2:4). He is the most perfect Parent of all—that is why we address Him as Father.
For more about the parents’ role in teaching their children, request our free booklet Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension.
Qualities of a good teacher
A good teacher will have some qualities setting him or her apart from those who cannot teach effectively. Such things as a good command of the language and ability to communicate effectively are paramount. We also expect the teacher to have a wealth of knowledge and to be able to impart that to us. We look for patience and sincerity in a teacher.
A teacher who loves to teach and loves to see progress and growth of knowledge in a student is readily appreciated. A good teacher is one who will be respected and trusted because he teaches respect and trust.
We can ruin much good through one foolish mistake or slip. Therefore, a teacher recognizes he teaches by his life as well as by his words. He will be seeking ways to better reach his students and always have their best interests at heart. This kind of a teacher will rejoice in the success of his pupils.
David expressed his need in Psalm 25:4-5 when he wrote, “Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me…” God is the greatest teacher, and we can totally rely on Him. He teaches through His Holy Spirit, which inspired His Word in Holy Scripture, and through human teachers. Ephesians 4:11 states God “gave” some to be teachers—it’s a gift from Him.
We are all teachers in some form or another—let us become good ones!