I Love It!
I love teaching. I love the laughter; I love the tears. I love the moments when God breaks in. I love the moments of discovery. I love the hours of preparation. I love the relationships. I love the outreach. I love the opportunity. I love the dream.
I love poring over dusty commentaries. I love reading what the best minds that God has created down through the centuries have said about the passage at hand. I love discovering a Newsweek article or a Chuck Swindoll story that fits perfectly into this weeks lesson. I love being in the flow of what God wants to teach a group. I love it when God orchestrates the circumstances of my life so that I am able to bring an illustration from my life this week that fits perfectly with the lesson. I love getting started early and letting the lesson simmer like rich New Mexico chili. I love pondering and thinking and praying over the passage.
I enjoy leading the discussion. I love that spirit of anticipation as I walk into a group feeling like, "Boy, do I have something to show you guys today! Your lives are never going to be the same." I love the animation, the energy that comes from teaching. I love asking silly questions that get the group talking and laughing and opening up and getting to know each other. I enjoy opening the word of God together to see what the text says and what the text means. I love the dialogue that is created by a well crafted jump-ball question. I love evaluating where we are and where we should be. I love the testimonies of those more mature in the faith casting a light on the trail for the rest of us. I love the life-changing challenge of application.
Most of all, I love seeing what happens with them. Their eyes brighten. They raise a finger to make a point. They start to speak, then the inner dialogue pulls them back. They pause to think the issue through further. Then, when the thought has fully fermented, they blurt it out without care of who they are interrupting: "Well I think. . ." Their enthusiasm bubbles over and spills into the room. They say something that has never been said before. They think thoughts that have never been thought before. They think. They ponder. They discuss. They disagree in an atmosphere of love. They touch, hold and see things that involve them and never leave them bored.
I love it when people see the gap. Teaching is all about leading people to see the gap. Like when I was sharing with someone once about coming to faith in Christ. We were sitting next to an arroyo in the mountains. He looked across the arroyo and said, "I feel like I am over here, and God is over there." He pointed across the arroyo. He saw the gap. In a little while he prayed and became one with God. He and God and I closed the gap.
Teaching is about closing the gap. It is about leading people to see that they are here and Gods standard for their life is there and God would ask them to close the gap in the power of the Holy Spirit. I was teaching recently when a student said, "If I did what you are talking about, it would change everything in my life." She saw the gap. I love it. By Gods grace, in coming weeks, she will become willing to close the gap. Through Gods power and my teaching and her willingness and the power of the Holy Spirit working in all things, she will do so.
I love seeing the life change. I love watching people grow up over time. It is sad in a way, like it is watching your kids grow up. We are happy, but in a way, we want our kids to be children forever. We want to hold them as babies; we want to watch the take their first steps; we want to hear them utter their first words; we want to teach them again to ride a bicycle and roller blade in the cul-de-sac. Still we know that one of the greatest tragedies is children that never grow up. We scold our children when they act below their age. "Grow up," we say.
And so it is with the heavenly Father. He delights when his children first come to faith. The Bible teaches that all of heaven smiles. Ill bet they really know how to party in heaven. God delights as his children grow in grace and knowledge. He delights to see gossips muzzled and then transformed into encouragers; complainers turn into worshipers; thieves turn into givers.
We too delight to watch our group, over time, grow up. We love to watch them develop their people skills and learn to get along. We love to see them memorizing scripture. We love to see them reading the Bible on their own and discovering truth for themselves. We love it when they begin to discover their gifts and use them in ministry. What joy to see them become passionate about evangelism and ministry. We love to see their heart and their check book open for the cause of Christ and the Glorious Commandment.
We love to see families that are really working. We love to see husbands change from clods and stereo-typical male buffoons into sensitive, kind, strong, flower-buying, romantic leaders and lovers. We love to see wives growing in their ability to effectively serve and enjoy their families, helping to meet the unique needs of each member of the family. We love to see the church develop into a spiritual extended family, so that we are uncles and aunts to one anothers kids because we are, in the most profound way, brothers. We love to see singles not living alone, but living their single life as part of a community, part of a family.
I love outreach. I even love taking off early on a Friday afternoon to vacuum the floor, bake the coffee cake and scrub the bathroom. I can deal with the awkwardness of new relationships, and enjoy watching them blossom into friendships. I love the laughter and the conversations and the small talk and the fun and the games. I love sitting on the couch with Sharon at the end of an evening knowing that our labor was not in vain. That two more people have come along way toward being assimilated into the life of the body of Christ. I love the feeling of knowing that this small act of hospitality has helped someone to feel loved by the church and loved by God.
I love the dream that we share. I love the passionate dream that wakes me up at night imagining a better world. A world where city streets are safe and honesty is the norm; where the salt of the people of God have penetrated a tasteless world. I love the Glorious Commandment that God has given us. I love the dream.
This book is an invitation. An invitation for you to love it too. You probably already do, or you would not have read a book on how you can be a better teacher. It speaks well of you that you have taken time to improve your skills. Only those who love felling trees take time to sharpen their ax.
I hope this will not be the last book on teaching you read. I pray that you will be a life long learner of the craft of teaching. I, for one, have a healthy appreciation for the difficulty of teaching. There is a reason God warned that not many of us should presume to be teachers. (James 3:1) It is hard work. I love it. But it is hard work. But, with skill, and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do our work effectively. I challenge you to engage in a life long pursuit of learning how to teach more effectively. I want to be a better teacher by this time next year. I hope you want to improve your teaching as well.
This book is not about teaching; it is about love. It is about loving your students enough to skillfully give to them the truth that will set them free. Nothing else will set them free. Only teachers who love the truth and love their groups and love the work will help people to be set free. I love teaching. I want you to love it too.