“Are you excited about going to the 3rd grade?” I asked.
“Yes!” answered my granddaughter.
“I wonder who your teacher will be…”
Her mom speaks up “Just be glad you won’t have Mrs. So-and-so!”
Oh yes… Mrs. So-and-so…. 😦
Growing up with the nature of a “rule follower”, a strong respect/fear for authority, and a deep dislike for any kind of confrontation, I didn’t buck the system when my child was placed with the less than stellar teachers. I knew that she was smart and would be able to complete the work assigned to her, so when she got the difficult teachers I tried to encourage her as much as possible and remind her that school was not about fun, it was about learning (I sounded like my father…). I gave the teachers the benefit of the doubt that they held the positions based on their merits even if they were not well liked. But I watched her interests wane as year after year she was assigned to classes with teachers that were not the best. She envied her friends that were enjoying their classes. She effortlessly earned decent grades, enjoyed the social aspects of the school environment, and highly celebrated the day it was all over. It could have been so different….
My favorite teachers were the ones that I felt truly cared about me. Other teachers were tolerated as I completed the assignments and stored the facts away in the recesses of my brain, but I didn’t learn all that I could have under their tutelage. Then of course there were the bad teachers. Like the one who would lay her head on the desk and sleep during our time with her. She was unpleasant and difficult to understand as she seemed to mumble when she spoke. (I now strongly suspect she had a drinking problem.) We enjoyed her class only because we were happy with the opportunity to quietly play as she slept, being careful not to wake the angry beast.
The best teachers first build confidence in the student’s ability to learn. They are encouraging and patient, trustworthy with the facts, and strategic in laying a strong foundation that can be built upon year after year. They are not afraid of the hard questions and will endeavor to lead the student to understanding. They will correct mistakes made, both in the assignments given and behaviors observed, but will do so with kindness. The hunger of a student eager to learn is the pinnacle of satisfaction for them and they will move mountains to not only satisfy that hunger, but to also make them hungry for more. The best teachers love to teach and they love their students.
I have told you these things while I am still with you. But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things. He will bring to your remembrance everything I have told you. John 14:25-26
The early church dealt with the same problems we have – teachers that disagreed, false prophets, and leaders who denied Jesus as the Son of God. They may not have had the internet where they could post their beliefs for the world to see, but the synagogues and temples were central attractions of that day. Their voices were loud and their messages spread rapidly throughout the cities. Jesus knew His followers would be bombarded with misinformation and the temptations to depart from His truth. Yet He was leaving. He wouldn’t be walking with them much longer and would not be there to sort the truth from the lies for them.
If you abide in My word – hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them – you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. John 8:31-32
A familiar scripture, even to unbelievers. Erase from your mind how the world has used those words and read them again. Jesus said if we will abide in His word, His teachings, and direct our lives accordingly, we WILL know the Truth. We do not have to fear wrong teaching, but in order to identify the Truth, we must be devoted to studying and listening. He never intended that we only rely on other people to hear what He has to say. He wants to speak to each of us individually and lead us in His ways. John wrote to the church: …His anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood…. 1 John 2:27
He also knew how much we would need each other to develop and grow. We are instructed to “not neglect the assembling together” (Hebrews 10:25). We need to talk about what we are reading and what we are learning. We have to be willing to disagree at times, but continue to come together to “…watch over one another, studying how we may stir up to love and helpful deeds and noble activities… (Hebrews 10:24)
We have been assigned to the best Teacher. He has clearly told us we CAN learn. He is not afraid of our hard questions and will lead us to understanding. He corrects us when needed, always with kindness. He delights in our desire to know more and will take us as far as we want to go in discovering the treasures of knowing God, moving mountains if need be. He is never boring, and while satisfying our hunger with the truth of His word, He stirs up hunger for more. He loves to teach and He loves His students.
With all that He will teach us, He will never stray from the foundation He laid upon which every command He has given is based:
Love Him with all our hearts, and love others like He does.