I like being a teacher and a leader. I really do. I would like to say that it isn’t for the recognition, and I think that on most levels that would be true. There is a part of me, if I am honest, that likes the success of seeing someone learn because of my teaching. I enjoy seeing something come together because of my leadership. And, I know that pride can easily get tangled up in all of that. But, I do want to grow in the humility of all glory going to God Himself, the One who makes all of my teaching and leadership opportunities possible.
A few months ago I read a couple of verses about Paul and his leadership/teaching of Timothy. It made me stop and think long and hard about what it means to be a teacher and leader. What does that look like Scripturally? If we follow Paul’s example, we just might find that it’s anything but glamorous! Check out the verse with me:
Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 2 Tim 3:10-11
When I read these verses, I felt compelled to break it down and go through each thing that Timothy followed in Paul and contemplate a portion of what it would mean in my life. In truth, I barely scratched the surface of the significance of each of these words, but I can only process so much at once! I’m still processing just these things.
Teaching – These verses come in the middle of a passage about the difficult times that will come in the life of a believer. Paul’s teaching was not passive. It was not gently persuasive. Instead, it was bold. It captured people’s hearts – and often got him into trouble. Now, I’m not saying I should go out and look for trouble when I teach, but am I willing to be bold? What am I willing to risk to truly teach the truth?
Conduct – If I had a video camera monitoring my every move and playing it for those I teach and lead, what would they see? I don’t even want to think about it. But, if I’m going to claim to be a teacher and leader, I have to think about it.
Purpose – So, what is my purpose, really? Not just in my teaching and leadership, but in my life as a whole (contemplating conduct again, can there really be any separation between the two?). If it’s anything other than the furtherance of the kingdom of God, it is an unworthy purpose.
- Faith – One of my favorite things to teach is lessons of trust. God will always come through for you! Trust Him! He is trustworthy! Lean on Him! But what happens in my own life when the rubber meets the road. I reviewed a fiction novel recently where the main character was repeatedly telling another character to trust God. He turned it back on her and told her that if she could practice what she preached, he would trust. It’s harder when it comes back on us. But, I can’t teach it if I’m not willing to live it.
- Patience – There are so many applications to this, but one stood out to me above all others: patience in the face of injustice; patience when personally wronged. If I am continually concerned with whether or not justice is served to me and mine, I am not living a life of patience. And, I’m not living a life worthy of leadership.
Love – I’m not one of these who naturally sees ways to shower love on others. I envy those who have that personality. So, how does love fit in with who I am? Very simply: I faithfully keep God as the sole object of my affection. I love Him. Then He loves through me, whether it be to my husband, my children, or those around me. No, I’m not there yet. But, that’s where I need to be.
Perseverance – Ministry is hard. One of the most common things I hear in churches is, “I’ve been doing this for ____ years. I’m tired. It’s time for someone else to step up and give me a break.” I understand! I get tired too. I want a break, too. But, what if ministry were to come down to me or no one? Guess what – it does! Every single person in the body has their role. As our physical bodies age, certain members start to decide to no longer function properly. What effect does that have on us? A tremendous one! If we are ministering where God wants us to minister, He strengthens us as we faithfully lean on Him. We may change specific roles. I may teach teenagers this year and young women next year. But. we still must persevere. We simply can’t just stop working! Do I persevere? When I grow tired, do I turn to Him for renewal, or do I back away?
Persecution – 2 Tim 3:12 states, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” I honestly cannot say that I have been persecuted. Mocked some. Made fun of. Ridiculed. But not persecuted. But it’s coming. What will my example be?
Suffering – I have suffered. Not great, major sufferings, though. Minor ones. I almost wish they had been great. My whining might have been more justified – okay, so not really. It would have been better if I hadn’t whined at all! But, I hope my example in this area is growing. I desire to be worthy to be followed through true suffering. But, complaining through suffering is not very exemplary behavior. Trusting, persevering, and living patience through suffering is exemplary.
So many of us teach and lead, even if in the smallest of ways. Even my three children teach and lead each other! At some point, we all fit into the category of teacher/leader. How well do our lives reflect what it means to be an exemplary teacher and leader? Paul’s life reflected it so beautifully that we have that example preserved for us two thousand years later. If my example can even be remembered by just my children, I will be thankful. May I be worthy of that remembrance.