Ahhhh…..the smell of September is in the air in the form of crisp Apples and freshly painted classrooms. It’s no coincidence then, that our current subject in our study of Romans 12 is the gift of teaching! I hope you’ve been blessed with great teachers throughout your lifetime. I know I have. So, who was the teacher who impacted your life most? What did they do that was so special? Chances are, it was more than what they did, it was who they were.
Romans 12:11 teaches that someone with the gift of teaching is “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord. (King James Version). We seldom think of teaching as a business, do we? But what if we did? Lets look at a passage from the Old Testament that illustrates teaching as a business. If you look in 2 Kings 4:1-7 you’ll discover a beautiful story. In summary, the prophet Elisha meets a widow who is indebted to her creditors. After discovering her need, Elisha asks the women what she needs and she says she only has a pot of oil. Elisha then tells her to go and collect pots from her friends and neighbors and to pour out the oil. When she fills the first vessel, the oil keeps pouring and she fills every last vessel.
Let’s pick up in verse 7, “Then she came (the widow) and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay the debt and live thou and thy children of the rest.”.
Attitude: When it comes to the business of teaching, people with the gift of teaching have the right attitude. Elisha was confident, God could help the women despite her desperate situation. That’s what teachers do. The season great teachers find themselves in is the best season, regardless of circumstances. Elijah encouraged the widow to take action. Some people would have said she was too old or her situation was too dire. Why bother, right? Aren’t you glad the teacher who inspired you didn’t give up on you despite your shortcomings. Their attitude is I will succeed regardless of the handwriting on the wall. Teachers are not ‘slothful in business, they are fervent in spirit’. Like flames of fire, difficulties and challenges are life-giving oxygen. The darker their night, the brighter they burn.
Beliefs: Teachers firmly believe there is value in serving the Lord. How do we serve the Lord? By serving others. We serve the one we can’t see by serving the ones we can see. Elisha gave the widow specific directions. He added value to her life….in fact, he helped her experience life to the greatest degree. And here’s what separates great teachers from average ones. Great teachers realize the importance of branding, and packaging, sales, and profits. Great teachers don’t package million dollar ideas in fifty cent cigar boxes with handwritten labels. There is selling oil and then there is action, researching the market, great packaging, finding the best market, sales. If you don’t believe that, look at their websites, their books, their products and buildings, the people they hire. Which begs the question- Are you putting in the required effort to be as effective as you possibly can or are you just meeting the minimum requirements? This applies not only to teaching, but marriage, employment, raising children, pastoring, leadership, fatherhood and motherhood, etc. Great teachers believe the time is worth the effort and teach accordingly.
Choices: Great teachers choose to go the extra mile in their endeavors. Chances are the teacher who impacted you chose to make a difference. They embody their teaching (John 1:14). Even today, you probably can’t remember a particular lesson, but you remember the teacher. Chances are they smiled, were warm (fervent), encouraging….like a warm fireplace on a cold Fall day. Not only did they choose to be great teachers, their lives were marked by great choices in general. Perhaps they traded a million dollars for the opportunity to enrich a million lives. Elisha could have said ‘I’ll give you ten bucks for the oil’ and sold it himself for a great profit. But great teachers thrive when their students thrive. They are quite happy to take the lawn seat while their students sit in the balcony.
Maybe you’re a teacher and you’ve gotten a little discouraged. Or, as a teacher you are wondering how you’re going to get through this next school year. You can be promised there will be obstacles and plenty of people who want to rain on your parade. Some of your students will be difficult and unruly. No wonder, then, Paul says teachers are not lazy, but fervent in spirit. Decide right now that no matter what happens you are going to not only exercise your God-given gift, but develop and burn brightly. Decide today that you will use the obstacles and difficulties you encounter as opportunities to study and grow.
When God allows a difficult person or situation to enter your life it’s usually so that you’ll learn and mature. If you accept the challenge, you’ll rise to new levels; refuse it and you’ll plateau. -Cory MacNeil
Finally, teachers are diligent as businessmen: they keep doing the same thing over and over again in new and creative ways. They are also warm, igniting and sparking others to reach for new heights through service. Ultimately, in the words of Rick Warren, ‘they serve an audience of one’.
What are your thoughts on teaching? If there’s something you’d like to add or comment on in this post, please do so on Facebook or Twitter. We’re better together!