Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)
TITLE: Jesus With Skin On
By Peggy Bennitt
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The ultimate model of a teacher is Jesus. He was called Rabbi, which means scholar or teacher. I suppose it goes without saying to most Christians, but sometimes we need to be reminded that Jesus is the One we need to model. If we do that, and do it well, we all are rabbis with Him, a member of the rabbinate, teachers. All of us are called to be teachers and are given gifts and talents to carry out this ministry.
These teaching gifts take different forms, as different as the fingerprints of the people involved. I don’t mean that because we are called to be teachers, we can all get up in front of a class and lead great, in-depth discussions. That’s what pops into my mind when I hear the term, teacher. Nor can we all explain a calculus problem or genetics. Being a teacher is sharing knowledge on many levels, not just intellectual, and sharing yourself is a part of being a great teacher. I’ve heard said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, and I believe that. I know it’s true for me. Is it true for you? It’s that caring connection that has to happen before any actual teaching occurs.
When I look back at people who I’ve learned the most from, I see, feel, and remember their caring first. The learning seemed almost to be an afterthought. I learned from the caring. I guess I’m a “hands on” learner. Most of us teach without saying a word. If we are living our Christian faith, we are a walking lesson plan.
The world seems to be fascinated with teaching and its impact on people, and Hollywood has made a fortune from movies about teachers: Stand and Deliver, Dead Poets Society, Sister Act 2, and Mr. Holland’s Opus, just to name a few. In Mr. Holland’s Opus, a young man dreaming of becoming a great composer, starts out teaching music just for the paycheck, but is unsuccessful until he begins to care about the kids. He doesn’t start enjoying his own life until he invests himself in theirs.
That certainly is true of the Christian life, isn’t it? We need to be “vested” in others if we are to impact them for eternity. We can’t share our heavenly Father with needy people until we get their earthly needs out of the way. We need to invest ourselves in them, in their lives. We can’t give them a spiritual “deposit” until that personal investment is made.
When I was a Stephen minister, I had a care receiver who had a debilitating chronic illness. She had a difficult time relating to people because of this, and as I listened to her problems and concerns, I could tell that she wasn’t handling things logically, which was a problem associated with the illness. When I asked her questions designed to help her face and handle some of these issues, she reacted in anger and screamed at me, “You have no idea what it’s like to be me! You don’t have a clue!” She was absolutely right and I told her so, and asked her to explain how she felt as she dealt with this on a daily basis. She immediately calmed-down, surprised that I would admit that and stay to hear her story. I learned much from this lady, but I had to become a part of her life for that to happen. I think she was the teacher, not me. I had to share in her earthly struggles before we could connect about spiritual things, which we did.
The old adage, “Actions speak louder than words” puts caring as a priority for teaching, especially as Christians. If we care for people and love them as Christ does, words aren’t always necessary. Saying, “I care” is not as effective as a big hug, a pat on the back, or tears shared in sympathy. We need to be Jesus with skin on. Modeling Jesus is hands-on teaching. If we are sharing ourselves, doing as Jesus did, we are teachers. And so, we share the Gift of Jesus, the Ultimate Teacher. And as we share Him, we too are taught.
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