The Passionate Teacher

 ‘Good teaching cannot be reduced to techniques; good teaching comes from the identity and the integrity of the teacher.’

                                                        Joe Briseno


For the last two months, I’ve been preparing materials for a Bible study, “Communicating the Gospel in a Post-Modern World.” The story of how we became a part of this preparation is hilarious, but watching the full vision unfold has been nothing less than marvelous. To appreciate the unlikeliness of our paths crossing with this associate pastor’s plans, you’d have to understand several things about the nature of our church:


  1. The church has 3000+members. We have five services between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
  2. Though large in membership, our church still operates as a very small church.
  3. #2 means that there are behaviors of the church community as a whole that tend to stifle the body:
    1. New members don’t always have a place to fit in and feel welcomed.
    2. There is a clique among the “old heads” such that if you’re not known, you often don’t get asked to help.
    3. Being known and serving means being determined enough to push past all of these dynamics and find your place.


I’ll fast-forward through our own experiences in navigating these waters, and instead focus on this opportunity, which couldn’t have come in a more unorthodox fashion. We were attending a basketball game with our 1st grader cheering, when one of our pastors, whose gregarious personality is the only feature that dwarfs his over-sized frame, asked us, “Why don’t you ever invite me over to your house?” My husband and I were both taken back by the thought of someone inviting themselves to dinner, but what do you do besides extend an invitation? And I’ll admit, this pastor has been such a blessing and a pure joy to us that I wish he’d invited himself sooner (smile).


I’m humbled that I’ve been able to help him, but I also realize how much the preparation has helped me. Through learning what it takes to communicate the gospel in these times, I’ve been blessed with a rich word in what it takes to educate our children at home.


My mil, a public school teacher for decades now, sometimes vents her frustrations with some newer teachers beginning careers in education. “They don’t have a calling to teach. It’s just a job for them.” Obviously, as ones who are not paid to educate, a paycheck won’t drive us. Passion must urge us on—not necessarily a passion to teach, but a passion to produce fruit in our kids. The supplies, the flash cards, the computer, and yes, even the curriculum are all tools and techniques to use until the teacher—me, you–shows up. And though the goal is independence and self-sufficiency, the teacher must still show up. We must show up to direct, to train, to encourage, and every so often, to correct. We must show up, if only to role model adulthood for our young adults.


So the question becomes not how we teach, but how do we awaken the teacher within us?


The answer is first to know who we are.   Life is our teacher, and a great one at that. It’s why we can teach some areas well and why we struggle with other areas—we’ve been there. Experience determines what we view as important enough to pass on to future generations, as well as what isn’t as high a priority. It allows us to walk in authority and confidence in some places, and to be humble enough to admit that we need help in others.


Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance all things seen and heard. Our task, therefore, is to be good students. We must be aware of what gets into our subconscious, and what tests build our intuition. Life processes itself through these areas, and we need to be sensitive. We need to be students ourselves—of our spiritual gifts, of skills and talents we have, and of those that have yet to come. We need to take notes along our journey; God’s been too good to us in whatever He’s taught us for us to waste our memories. Our teaching then, becomes an outpouring of our lives—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whatever colors, fabrics, and textures the Lord has allowed into our own personal rug, we use it. That way, our children will produce fruit and prayerfully not make the mistakes that we made. They will change this world—just by being in it.

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