If you could designate anyone as the perfect teacher, who would you choose? We could all probably name a few qualified instructors who have benefited us.
Today, advertisements bombard the internet and social media from people anxious to take our money in return for the latest, greatest training in whatever interests us. They attempt to promote personal success stories as credentials. Who or what qualifies someone to teach or instruct another?
Recently, individuals in our small home group shared their experiences of being taught as children. Some received the iron-hand of instruction — a do it my way or else method. Others felt the freedom of being entrusted to discover their own way through challenging assignments. Still others learned tasks bit-by-bit through loads of encouragement. All felt a certain level of limitation surrounding the processes of learning and growing.
God is not negligent at teaching those who follow Him.
“I hear the Lord saying, I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!”
Psalm 32:8-9 TPT
Within these verses we find multiple ways a perfect teacher instructs. Let’s break it up a bit.
- I will stay close to you
- Instructing and guiding you
- I will advise you along the way
- And lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.
The best instruction and training occur within this type of intimate relationship. To learn lessons well, we need someone who sticks by us through the process, “instructing, guiding, and advising” us. It implies doing life together. The psalm uses the Hebrew word for teaching which means “to flow as water, to lay, to point out, or teach” the correct “course of life, mode of action, or road to walk.”
The psalm points to a walking together with our teacher and learning by word and example.
The New Testament uses the Greek word didaskalos for teacher fifty-eight times. Forty-one of those times, translated also as Master or Instructor, refers to Jesus. Throughout the Gospels, we witness Him walking in intimate relationship with His disciples. He did not restrict His teaching to a chosen few, however, but rather taught everyone freely.
“By the time Jesus came ashore, a massive crowd was waiting. At the sight of them, his heart was filled with compassion, because they seemed like wandering sheep who had no shepherd. So he taught them many wonderful things.”
Mark illustrates Jesus teaching to the masses out of a heart filled with compassion. The Message Translation of the Bible puts it this way, “At the sight of them, his heart broke … He went right to work teaching them.”
Multitudes of people around us lack the core instruction needed to function in a healthy, production way. Without a solid spiritual foundation, they find it impossible to thrive. I imagine Jesus’ heart again breaks as He looks down the streets of our cities. If He was present, I believe He would do as He once did and get to work teaching them.
The need for Spirit-filled, anointed teaching remains. Who will fill the gap?
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The disciples didn’t instantly become model students. They often made Jesus’ task of teaching more difficult than necessary. I do, too. Psalm 32 adds,
“So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!”
The disciples often turned intimate teaching opportunities into arguments over who was the greatest among them. Even Jesus, the Perfect Teacher, requires His students to possess a willingness to learn. The same applies to us.
God loves each of us enough not to leave us lacking, struggling, and unable to cope with life’s ups and downs. He patiently comes beside us, inviting us to “just come with me!” But His ways feel strange and uncomfortable. They stand in complete contradiction to our ways. Then we, like they, resist His instruction.
But before we are qualified to teach others, we must first learn from Jesus, the Perfect Teacher. That requires submitting to His mindset and following His ways.
Jesus’ students eventually caught on, coming into alignment with His instruction. They soon proved to be the greatest transformational success story this world has known. The early disciples carried on Jesus’ teaching with the same passion and compassion He displayed.
Jesus instructed them,
“Now you must go into all the nations and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins so that they will turn to me …”
Luke 24:47 TPT
Yet, their teaching was often rejected.
Jesus’ students continued to teach in spite of opposition. They proved that the message of the gospel, rather than a perfect sales pitch, eloquent storytelling, or charisma, “is the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16). And indeed, because they learned well from the Master, they instructed others equally well. Though accused of turning the world “upside down,” their efforts, in reality, turned it more right side up.
May we be encouraged by their example and the unfailing promise of God to continue to teach us. Whether our learning journey has been short or long, difficult or easy, may we draw close to the Father allowing Him to “guide (us) along the pathway for (our lives) … advising (us) along the way and leading (us) … with (His) eyes.”
Then may we, too, become those who teach others through truth-filled words, living examples, and the compassion of Christ. Eternity will bear witness of the impact of following the leading of our Perfect Teacher.