James 3:1-2 NKJV
I John 1:8-10 NKJV
Matthew 12:35-37 NKJV
Luke 12:48b NKJV
My personal experience with teaching is that the actual teaching wasn’t the hard part. I can study scripture and write a lesson. I can teach the lesson mostly without notes. I know how to teach in church and I’ve done it a lot.
Being a Pastor’s wife (at least where we served) meant there were times when no one would teach certain classes, so I’ve taught just about every age group from children to adults.
As I said, the teaching was not difficult. The hardest thing I encountered was what happened after class.
There were times when I was dragged into difficult issues and blindsided on the street. Most of the time it was about issues not from scripture. They were about life.
I have to admit I was naive. I wasn’t prepared. When I should have simply stated the subject wasn’t something I was comfortable discussing, I was thinking I needed to be “nice”.
I didn’t expect to be cornered on the street or at the supermarket.
At one point I was editor of the local paper, and I was challenged about something printed in the newspaper. I didn’t write the piece…it was written by the publisher and owner and he did not put his name on the story.
In James 3:1-2 he says, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”
I found that James is right. Teachers are held to a stricter standard.
When I was teaching a class in church, I wasn’t allowed to have personal opinions. I couldn’t disagree with something someone said after class. While some of that was because I was a Pastor’s wife, some was because I was just because I was their teacher.
By the time I was in my late 40’s I stopped teaching in church. I hated that because I loved the teaching, but it caused too many other problems. If I disagreed with anyone about anything, that spilled over into the class and then gossip would follow.
I finally went back to teaching after I divorced, and I had learned to guide a conversation away from controversial subjects. But, in the end I found out that someone was talking about me behind my back.
So, maybe James should teach about gossip? Oh yea, he did! Think of how many times James wrote about “the tongue”!
We read in Matthew 12:35-37, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
So, even though there will be an account in the end, when people stir the pot in a negative way, they do great damage. Do you remember the What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) movement years ago? Sometimes just suggesting that in conversation is applicable.
In Luke 12:48b, we learn, “for everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask more.”
Overall, I think from my experience with teaching I was reminded of the human condition. People get jealous. They take things the wrong way.I learned that some people would rather talk about others behind their back than say something straight up.
For myself, I had to learn to stop being naive and start speaking the truth in love. If someone speaks a lie about me in secret, it’s best to bring it into the light of day. I haven’t taught a regular class for a while now, but I’d like to think I’m bolder now…less naive.
I would like to think I’d remember what John wrote in I John 1:8-10, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
We all sin.
Finally, I think love, real love IS the answer. Even if someone gossips, the teacher needs to love them. I mean really love them so the bad will fall away. I think that’s what Jesus did. He told the truth, the whole truth. He confronted in love when it was needed. He loved enough to be really bold and truthful.
THAT is what people in a position of responsibility need to do. They need to push past the sin and love the sinner. It’s hard, but it’s necessary.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Love
Think of someone who is unloveable and love them.
In God, Deborah