The Teacher Behind the Lesson
Do you have a favorite teacher in your life? My high school history teacher had a huge impact on my life. She taught me far more than U.S. history with her life. My 11th grade Sunday School teacher taught me much about using hospitality to support teaching and learning. Several of my college professors had us in their homes on many occasions where we talked about theology, life, and relationships. I don’t remember many lessons they taught; I do remember how they shaped my life.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the contributions of Henrietta Mears. She was a groundbreaker in Christian education and discipleship. She was years ahead of her time in the use of small groups. Her life is an example of commitment to a purpose. She trained and influenced generations of future Christian leaders. You can read about her at the following links;
3 Keys to a More Successful Small Group Ministry
I’m Just a Sunday School Teacher?
The Ten Commandments of Small Group Bible Study
Are Teachers Born or Made?
Small Group Leadership: What Is Your Priority?
This Mears quote calls attention to the unique element of teaching, the teacher.
“The most powerful part of a lesson is the teacher behind it.” – Henrietta Mears
Every Christian learning experience contains several elements: the Bible, the Holy Spirit, the learner, the group, the curriculum, environment, and finally, the teacher. Each influences the teaching and learning. The Bible is the textbook. The Spirit is the One who brings transformation. The teacher focuses on the learner, teaching out of his or her life experiences. The life of the teacher becomes a canvas upon which God shows learners the lesson. As Parker Palmer has written, “Leader is the lesson.” In Courage to Teach, he wrote, “Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.”
Henrietta Mears knew the value of the teacher because she was a student of the Teacher, Jesus Himself. He is our model Teacher. No one taught like Him and no one has ever had the impact He has had on learners. Jesus was both the lesson and the teacher. As we teach, we cannot separate what we teach from who we are. Therefore, our lives must reflect the truths we desire for our learners to learn. Don’t get side-tracked here thinking who can possibly teach like the Perfect Teacher. We cannot teach perfectly, but the Perfect Teacher can nevertheless use us to bring about transformation in the lives of those learners who are seeking Him.
Henrietta Mears got it right. As teachers and small group leaders, we must let God work on us, in study, in delivery, and in follow-up. We know that unless our lives show our efforts to know and follow the truth of the gospel, we can never be the sort of teachers that have eternal impact.
Scripture: Look at Ezra’s example in Ezra 7:10. What do you see about the teacher behind the lesson in this verse?
Dig Deeper: Read “Eight Attributes of Healthy Small-Group Leaders” by Michael Mack