For All Those Aspiring Teachers Out There
James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
Being a teacher in the Jewish system was a prized role. It was one that brought with it the admiration of those around and as the fledgling new Christianity began to grow there were those who sought out this position of honor. People wanted to become teachers. The problem is that a number of them weren’t willing to take the time to be sufficiently educated to be the teachers they needed to be. For example, Apollos was traveling around as a teacher and yet he only knew the teaching of John the Baptist. He was smart enough, however, that when he discovered he was lacking, he was willing to sit under the teaching of Priscilla and Aquilla.
James was concerned about the quality of the teaching. The tongue is a very powerful tool and can be used to lead people in the direction of Christ, or astray. That’s why James was encouraging people to be discerning about this call to teaching. The other point that is brought up by many of the Church Fathers is that teaching without living out your teaching by example is worthless. All teaching that is merely words should be rejected. A teacher should embrace the very words that they teach because they will “judged with greater strictness.”
Let me just combine this comment — not just about aspiring teachers, but preachers as well. Or, let’s expand that to small group Bible Study leaders — or leaders within the church of any kind. It’s not good enough to just talk about your faith or be able to teach from a booklet or show a DVD. For teaching to have value there must be a depth behind the words. If you are to teach, you must believe and live what it is that you are teaching.
The world is tired of all the fluff and wants to see that our faith is genuine. There are far too many people these days who are popular just simply for being popular and not because of the depth of anything of significance that they have accomplished. This is a real shift in our culture but the reality is that eventually the empty house will begin to fall down. Look at the scandal of the tele-evangelists of the 1980’s. They rose to fame and became popular because they could — because they learned how to use the media to their benefit — and yet, their lifestyles left much to be desired.
For all those aspiring teachers and preachers out there — don’t seek after that kind of a position because you want to be up front and get the attention. Only do the job if God is calling you and then, take the time to know your profession well. Know what you don’t know — and then seek to learn more. May the speech of your tongue be seasoned and the acts of your life be a shining example to all those around you. Don’t just speak words, but practice what you preach.
There is a higher standard for those who put themselves before a group of people to be their influencers. That’s the warning here. Beware — for the enemy will do all that can be done bring about your demise. The only way to remain faithful is to keep seeking the face of God, day in and day out. Aspire to know God — and then aspire to teach the God whom you have come to know.
Lord, help me to know you more today. Amen.