teachChangeNote: Howard Hendricks went to be with the Lord on Feb 20, 2013. This is part of a series of articles published in his honor.

The effective teacher always teaches from the overflow of a full life.

The Law of the Teacher, simply stated, is this: If you stop growing today, you stop teaching tomorrow.

Neither personality nor methodology can substitute for this principle. You cannot communicate out of a vacuum. You cannot impart what you do not possess. If you don’t know it—truly know it—you can’t give it.

This law embraces the philosophy that I, as a teacher, am primarily a learner, a student among students. I am perpetuating the learning process; I am still en route. And by becoming a student again, I as a teacher will look at the education process through a radically new—and uniquely personal—set of eyes.

I must keep growing and changing. The Word of God, of course, does not change, but my understanding of it does change because I am a developing individual. This is why Peter could tell us at the end of his second epistle, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Such a philosophy requires a certain attitude—the attitude that you have not yet “arrived.” A person who applies this principle of teaching is always asking, “How can I improve?”

Think of it this way: As long as you live, you learn; and as long as you learn, you live.

When I was a college student—back before the earth’s crust hardened—I worked in the college dining hall, and on my way to work at 5:30 every morning I walked past the home of one of my professors. Through a window I could see the light on at his desk, morning after morning.

At night I stayed late at the library to take advantage of evening study hours, and returning home at 10:30 or 11 o’clock, I would again see his desk light on. He was always poring over his books.

One day he invited me home for lunch, and after the meal I said to him, “Would you mind if I asked you a question?”

“Of course not.”

“What keeps you studying? You never seem to stop.”

His answer, I learned later, was in the words of another—but they had become his own: “Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than a stagnant pool.”

He was one of the best professors I ever had—a man who marked me permanently.

How about those you teach? From what are they drinking?


Teaching to Change Lives: Seven Proven Ways to Make Your Teaching Come Alive by Howard Dr Hendricks