4 Ways to be a Better Teacher of the Faith
Many Christians in society today know about Jesus, are familiar with His teachings, and can somewhat navigate themselves around a Bible. That’s great, honestly. What’s not great is the fact that more Christians in American stay at home than attend church every week. I believe choosing where you attend is the most important decision you’ll make in your walk with Jesus.
70.6% of Americans say they are of the Christian faith but only 47% attend church every week, according to the 2015 Pew Research Center report titled U.S Public Becoming Less Religious.
Note: Since it is not a main focal point for this article I won’t be talking about statistics much more. I suggest looking at the data for yourself.
If people aren’t going to a good church — or any church — they most likely aren’t learning. This means a stagnation in their faith may be occurring, but to those who are in a fruitful relationship with the Jesus — the greatest Teacher to ever exist — here are four ways to become a better teacher of the faith.
1) Have a teachable heart.
Boyd Bailey states that “teachability is a primary fruit of humility. When we have an open heart to learn, we are in a position to receive wisdom from God and others.” In the devotional, Learning to Lead Like Jesus, a teachable heart is described as:
“A teachable heart recognizes truth when it comes knocking. It invites truth in to be examined, understood, and applied. Truth invigorates the teachable heart. There is a rush of spiritual adrenaline when truth intersects with an open mind and heart.”
When God finds a teachable person — they are regarded as wise. And since wisdom, knowledge, and understanding only come from the mouth of God (Proverbs 2:6); a teachable heart learns the ways of God.
“The Holy Spirit facilitates teachability, as truth applied transforms behaviors and attitudes. Change that comes from the inside out makes us like Christ: humble, bold, wise, holy, gracious, encouraging, and faithful. Change doesn’t come easily, even if you understand God has your best interests in mind. But the transformation shows. Your character and behavior fall more in line with the life of Christ.”
Understanding the ways of God is important. Having a heart that wants to know and understand more is a great starting point in becoming a better teacher. The first step in sharing wisdom is to gain it and the only way to gain wisdom is to ask for it and study the living Word of God.
2) Understand Doctrine
What expert has not devoted the clear majority of their life to the profession they have expertise in? One does simply not master a subject by glancing at it once. One must spend an immense amount of time almost submitting oneself—in their area of study. In order to know the Bible, you must:
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deuteronomy 11:18-20).
The Bible is the Holy Spirit-inspired, living, infallible, and literal Word of God — why would any Christian not want to read it? It is a blueprint for life. It is a historical text. One that, according to Got Questions Ministries, offers us, “the ability to test it by checking the hundreds of detailed prophecies that it makes, by checking the historical accounts it records, and by checking the scientific facts it relates.”
Studying up on the Word is like studying for a final exam — you will not know the material if you only look at it. You will know the material by spending time going over each portion of it critically and applying it to memory and to life.
By dedicating yourself to the discipline of righteousness, the personal and practical application of biblical truths, you will be a wiser individual and a better teacher and leader to those around you. Another great way to grow in your faith is to speak to those who are wiser and further along in their faith.
3) Discuss, challenge, and rebuke each other with the Word of God
2 Timothy 3:16–17 states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Even the best professors, authors, and actors have editors; a second set of eyes who can help the vision come to fruition. Consider a Biblical mentor as nothing but a spiritual editor—not that they can edit the state of your spiritual being—but the can help the dream of being a better teacher of the faith become a reality.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
The people in my own life who keep me razor sharp and hold me accountable are veterans in their walk with Jesus. They have seen, experienced, and dealt with events I have not. These individuals are great Christian men and women who accept me for me but also never allow mediocrity. These are individuals who hold me accountable and make sure my words and actions align with God’s Word. I know that I can ask these people anything and discuss everything. Often, I leave our conversations feeling challenged; challenged to be better and challenged with ideas and concepts I never considered. Once or twice I have even been rebuked.
Rebuked? Wait. That sounds harsh and negative. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Paul speaks about the act of rebuking a fellow believer when he is instructing Titus as the overseer of the church. It is of high importance. According to Got Questions Ministries:
“To rebuke someone is to criticize him or her sharply. The Greek word most often translated “rebuke” in the New Testament is elegcho. In its fullest sense, elegcho means “to reprimand and convict by exposing (sometimes publicly) a wrong.”
It is worth addressing that before anyone gives someone else correction or rebukes them, they must first look at their own heart. Referencing Got Questions again:
Scriptural rebuke begins in the heart. Before we confront anyone about anything, we should first examine our own motives. First Corinthians 16:14 says, “Let everything be done in love.” That includes rebuke. There is a right way and a wrong way to rebuke someone. Wrong rebuking stems from pride, anger, malice, jealousy, or another selfish attitude. The goal of an unscriptural rebuke is to injure, shame, or otherwise injure a Christian brother or sister. Often, hypocrisy is involved. Most of the Bible’s warnings against judging others pertain to those who condemn others for the very things they do themselves (Matthew 7:3-5).
By knowing when and how to properly rebuke and challenge those around you your teaching of the faith will be sharpened.
4) Correction, by providing guidance from the truths in Scripture
It’s hard to believe that many of us who walk with Jesus have not at some point been corrected in love. It should not be embarrassing to admit but a time of thankfulness; being thankful that someone loves you so muchthat they do not want you to walk off the path.
This step builds upon the latter part of step three. Rebuking and correcting are similar—but it is important to remember that we are not correcting others to our moral standard of what we think is right but to God’s Holy and Perfect standard that is clearly presented in His Word.
Imagine you are building a car. Each part is labeled, but you have no manual and no instructions. When you complete the building of the car, you tell your experienced mechanic friend to come look, all they offer is, “you must be a real idiot to think this is right.” It’s unlikely you would be happy.
Correcting a Christian is no different. It is foolish to correct the behavior of a fellow believer and not back up that correction with an example of what that said behavior should look like. Bible.org says it this way, “As the Lord’s servants, in love we must wisely correct those in sin and serious doctrinal error.” Correction must be done wisely, patiently, and gently. It must be kind and loving to all and not quarrelsome. Steven J. Cole puts it this way:
“If you are a cleansed vessel, fleeing from sin and pursuing godliness (2 Timothy 2:20-22), then you are called to practice this gentle art of correction towards those who are flirting with or already have drifted into serious doctrinal error or sin. I want to give you some gentle, but firm correction by saying, “Do it!” Gently correct those you know that are in sin or error. Do it wisely. Do it in love. Do it in accordance with God’s Word. Do it prayerfully, being aware of spiritual warfare. But do it! Do it because you love God more than anything and you love your brother or sister as you love yourself.”
Carrying out correction is in the best interest of all involved. It is not done to elevate yourself or your own agenda, but to realign the heart of the affected person to the heart and words of Jesus Christ. Correction is done out of pure love to God.
“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” — Warren W. Wiersbe
By having a teachable heart, understanding doctrine, rebuking and challenging others, and offering gentle and loving correction you will become a better teacher of the faith. Applying these practices will not only make your faith stronger — but you will influence and positively impact the lives of many Christians around you.
My prayer is that these words resonate with your heart. I pray that we all become better educators of the faith, myself included. I pray that we become more loving, more passionate, gentler, and ultimately more Christ-like in a world that ever so badly needs it.