Session 8 - Man as Teacher
"Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about
to teach you
Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from
it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you."
Deuteronomy 1:1, 2
"I anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking
the very words of God." I Peter 4:4
- The challenge to the role of men as teachers in our society.
- To a great extent we accept the adage that "Those who
can work do work. Those who can't work teach."
- Teaching is not rewarded today, neither through prestige nor financial
- Teachers are among the poorest paid members of our society given
their educational background (both high school and college).
- Teachers typically rank fairly low on scales of job prestige.
- Usually teachers aspire to graduate beyond teaching (administration,
- Teachers also may be among the most poorly trained members of our society
given the responsibility we entrust to them.
- When you consider the time a physician trains to care for your
body (at least 11 years post high school), the time a lawyer trains
to care for your legal rights (8-9 years post high school) and the
time a computer scientist trains to care for your computer (many specific
training experiences and mentoring), the time devoted to training
our teachers is woefully inadequate. This is not to suggest that many
teachers are not trained excellently and are very devoted to their
profession and their own continuing education. Rather, our societal
expectations for teacher education and training are fairly minimal.
- We often believe that anyone can teach almost regardless of background
(if you need a part time job, almost whatever your background, you
can find work as a substitute teacher). Again, this is not to suggest
that many substitute teachers don't bring excellent backgrounds to
the classroom. Rather our societal expectations of the background
required for substitute teaching are minimal.
- When "women's work" was considered less important than men's
work, teaching was a profession which was considered appropriate for women
and perhaps not appropriate for men. Some of this prejudice persists today.
- Despite our high expectations for teacher results, until only recently
has society set any type of standard expectation (and that expectation
is far from adequate - success with test scores).
- At one time many children viewed becoming a teacher as their career
goal. Far fewer aspire to become teachers today than in the past.
- The challenge to the role of men as teachers in the church.
- Churches of Christ continue to be blessed with many men who
are excellent teachers and who search the scriptures in order to prepare
for their teaching assignments. Nevertheless, we almost certainly do not
find among our men today as many who aspire to teach and who are qualified
to do so proportionally as we did in the past. Such a finding is even
more disturbing when we consider how much better educated our men are
today than they were fifty years ago.
- Even in churches of the Restoration movement, there has been a widening
of the gap between the Biblical training of our ministers and the lay
men of the congregation.
- In most congregations of at least 250 members, the minister has
a college degree plus some type of training in the ministry (frequently
three additional years). Fifty years ago a minister with a master's
degree would have been a rarity.
- Whereas in the past, Bible was taught in our colleges (and even
our grade schools), we find very little teaching for persons not preparing
to become ministers.
- Our boys who "grow up in the church" know much less Bible
today than they did fifty years ago.
- Men throughout our brotherhood are less likely to be scrutinized for
their knowledge of the Bible when being considered for leadership positions
than in the past. (This does not mean that many of our men who are leaders
are not Bible students. Rather, we frequently don't consider their knowledge
of the Bible when we review them for positions of leadership. We select
men for their public speaking, interpersonal and administrative skills
or perhaps their good attitudes and willingness to work - good qualities
for leaders but not necessarily correlated with Bible study and ability
- Men do not study the Bible as we once did.
- Our busy life styles do not lend themselves to periods of Bible
study (we do well to find a quiet time for prayer each day).
- Men don't have the skills for independent Bible study. They typically
don't own reference works to assist them in study. They have never
participated in a structured Bible study.
- Men don't participate nearly as often in "outside Sunday morning"
Bible studies as do women (Bible Study Fellowship, Beth Moore series,
Tuesday morning Bible studies).
- Our expectations for men as teachers are low.
- If a man is a good speaker, if he can hold our attention during
a class (perhaps by telling good stories or good jokes) we generally
consider that adequate for a class.
- Frequently we judge a class on the basis of the degree of discussion.
As long as we can express our opinions, whether we learn anything
or not, we consider the class a success.
- We probably have uncoupled to some extent our expectation that
good male teachers are serious students of the Bible from our judgment
as to whether men are good teachers or not.
- We frequently may ask a man to teach the night before and often
consider it the rule rather than the exception that the man has not
prepared for the class in such cases. We may even view it a sign of
"strength" that a man can stand before a class and keep
us awake if he hasn't studied.
- We are much more likely to hear a man say that he has not had time
to prepare for a class than that he has worked hard preparing for
a class (of course, saying that he has worked hard places him at some
risk of not meeting an expectation, so men frequently keep the expectations
low to protect themselves).
- We don't have good benchmarks to determine whether a man is a good
teacher or not. We have no standardized tests to judge our Biblical knowledge
or changes in behavior. Our expectations from our ministers are fairly
high but we don't really know what we expect from our male teachers (except
keep us awake and don't upset us - teach, don't meddle).
- If there is one area within the church today where women clearly outshine
men, it probably is in the quality of their teaching and the preparation
they put into their teaching.
- Moses, lawgiver and teacher.
- Moses was Israel's greatest teacher. He gave them the law
and the explanation of the law (Deuteronomy).
- Moses gave us the great commandments regarding teaching and learning
- "Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach
you. Follow them
Do not add to what I command you and do not
subtract from it
" Deuteronomy 4:1, 2
- "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your
hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit
at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when
you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your
foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your
gates." Deuteronomy 6:6-9
- Moses demonstrates many of the characteristics of the great teacher.
- Moses was not just a teacher, he was a doer (he lead Israel out
of the land of Egypt). The best teachers are often those who have
been there before, who have gone through the experience. Moses knew
about teaching the law because God had taught him about the law. Moses
knew the importance of obedience to the law because he had been tested
by God in his obedience.
- Moses went through a very long period of training to be a teacher.
- Moses was well educated in the ways of the world.
- Moses went through a long period of initiation (a period of
humble work) before he became a great teacher and leader. (Acts
- He hesitated to become a leader and teacher. (Exodus 3) He
knew he was called by God to be a leader of the people. Teaching
was not self serving.
- Moses was not a great speaker initially. Exodus 4:10
- Only during the latter third of his life did Moses become the
greatest teacher in Israel.
- Moses became a teacher (lawgiver) following his role as leader
of Israel out of Egypt.
- Moses had struggled just as Israel had struggled even during
the time he was the great teacher and lawgiver to Israel. He disobeyed
God and knew the consequences. (Numbers 20:6-13)
- Moses stood between God and the people he taught on Sinai (Exodus
20:1-17) The teacher of God's people must experience a close walk
with God individually.
- Moses reputation as a great teacher rests on the fact that he brought
the word of God to the people and he interpreted that word clearly.
- "Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend
I will proclaim the name of the Lord." Deuteronomy
- "Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to
you this day
They are not just idle words for you - they
are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are
crossing the Jordan to possess." Deuteronomy 33:46, 47
- Moses is a great example to us of the man as teacher.
- Steps for men to take in order to become excellent teachers of God's word.
- Look upon yourselves as called to teach your children. Every
man with children should strive to be a worthy teacher.
- "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks
you to give the reason for the hope that you have." I Peter 3:15
- Just as we have an answer for questions asked by our children regarding
everyday life (e.g. How does the TV work?), men should have an answer
to spiritual questions (e.g. How do we know there is a God?). Every
man should view himself as a teacher of his children.
- Prepare to teach, whether at home or in the church, by study and prayer.
- "Get wisdom, get understanding, do not forget my words or swerve
from them." Proverbs 4:5
- Jesus assumed his listeners studied the scripture. Yet study must
be accompanied by an open and receptive mind. "You diligently
study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal
life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me." John 5:39
- Just as the surgeon studies the body in detail such that his study
can be applied before he performs an operation, the Christian man
must study the scripture in detail such that God's word can be applied
to the operations of life.
- Recognize that, like Moses, a man in his family, as teacher, stands
between God and his children. No more responsible position can be
- Look upon teaching in the church as a calling (it is not for everyone,
it is not necessarily fun). Ephesians 4:11. Men should take seriously
whether they have been called to teach in the church or not.
- Men who accept the call to teach in the church must accept that responsibility
- Teach for a purpose (the student should be changed after the lesson).
- Prepare in prayer and study such that no apologies are needed.
(Spend no less time or effort in preparing to teach a Bible class
than preparing to present a plan to your manager at work.)
- If questions arise during lessons, the teacher should search for
answers if the answers are not clear. The teacher must be honest about
what he knows and what he does not know. He should not answer any
- Evaluate your teaching to determine ways you can become a more
- Devote yourself to regular study of scripture, even when no teaching
assignment is before you.
- Accumulate resources for teaching (concordances, study aids, commentaries).
Use the church library.
- Steps for the church to take in supporting men as teachers.
- The church should highlight the importance of cultivating
excellent teachers and the need for such teachers.
- Teachers should be among those most highly praised in our congregations.
- Teachers should be known for their knowledge and wisdom, not only
for their speaking skills or theatrical abilities.
- The ability to teach should be a key characteristic of our church
- The church should take the responsibility to train its teachers, both
in teaching our children and teaching adults. The church should recognize
that very few men have ever received training in either Bible study or
- Just as a medical school (or other professional school) designs a specific
four year curriculum to insure that students have acquired the knowledge,
attitudes and skills necessary to be a doctor (or other profession), the
church should design a curriculum to insure that students are prepared
for the Christian walk. This curriculum should span both lessons from
the pulpit and lessons in our classes.