teacher beware! or perhaps just aware…

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” ~ 1 Peter 4:10 ~

I like to write. I like to teach. I read the verse in James this morning and realized that the fact that God has called me to teach is very treacherous territory for me if I am not dedicated to teaching truth. If I am not praying and meditating on the word of God I can get drawn away from the truth of God.

James says “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For, if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” The scary thing is the mistakes that I make (if I allow this to cause me to fear, which most of the time I don’t) cost more than anyone who isn’t called to teach.

I used to think it didn’t matter if I accidentally taught something wrong because it wasn’t intentional right? But when I read this verse what I hear is this absolves me from having to be perfect but the flip side to this is very scary. I know that I have the burden of stricter judgment based on whatever I teach and people hear and take for themselves as truth. I am accountable for that. If I don’t teach truth and I don’t preach the Gospel then I suspect that I will be judged quite harshly for that. Which, if I’m being really honest, is terrifying, and makes me never want to open my mouth to teach another soul, another thing for as long as I live. But I have made the choice to do what God has asked.

God gave me a passion for teaching. To tell you the truth I am sure that it started when I was a child. I am what people sometimes like to refer to as a know-it-all. I don’t try to be nor have I ever wanted to be and it actually really hurts my feelings when people call me that, but I love knowledge. I love to learn and I love telling other people what I’ve learned. One of the things I love about writing is that the only people who have to listen to what I’ve learned are people who want to “hear” what I have to say.

When I joined the military and I was going through medic school I loved the teachers. I remember one day they brought up the fact that several of them were retired Army medics and that if any of us wanted to teach after we got out that we should know that the opportunity was there. That really started me thinking about teaching. I knew the second I thought about it that I would love it.

Then a few years later I went through nursing school at Ft. Lewis and in nursing school you actually have to give lectures (at least in Army nursing school). I loved it. I would get up there and I would go through my PowerPoint slides and I would teach my heart out. I loved it and if someone in the class engaged… oh man that was the end. I would be over the moon. It was great. I loved it just as much as I knew that I would.

Then I started learning that I could teach anywhere. I would go on missions with the military and teach classes on things like heat casualties and how to avoid being one in the Texas heat. I would go work in hospitals and I would help all the young medics and nurses with things that they needed practice with. I was so dedicated to their learning something from me that I would even let them practice starting IV’s on me. My passion for teaching just kept growing.

Now my interest has turned from medicine. I still love medicine because I love helping people, but I think that my teaching skills are better used to teach people the good news. Isaiah says it like this and I love this verse it’s one of my favorites, he says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!”

I mean of all the things in the world to teach what could be more worthy to be taught than the Gospel? Where I get in my own way is not feeling like I am worthy to teach it. I don’t know enough. I haven’t REALLY been reading my bible long enough to know as much as other people and if they already know then I won’t be able to teach them anything. Funny thing about God though, he really likes to whisper in your ear when you’re thinking these things, and he reminds me: who he is makes who I am. And I am good enough to tell other people who he is. He will MAKE me an effective teacher. None of that is on me. None of my insecurity is grounded in truth. What God tells me to do I will succeed. I may not be successful (if that makes sense) but that may not be the point. I will accomplish what he means for me to accomplish.

Every time I feel like I am being ineffective I know that I am putting my faith in the wrong place. When that happens I like to remind myself of what Jesus says to the disciples when they ask why they were unable to drive out a demon. Jesus told them, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Did you get that part? Nothing will be impossible for you.

God will accomplish his will through you so there is no fear in teaching, or any other thing that God calls you to because he will do what he wants as long as we stay out of the way and allow him to use us fully for his purpose.

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

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