“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1
Christians are given a pretty stark warning against aspiring to a teaching role within the church without giving due consideration to the one who holds them accountable. Many will volunteer and seek out a position within the church in which they will be revealing God’s truths to others. Few, as indicated by the historical warning given by St. James, will consider the responsibility that comes with that role. Not just in terms of being prepared and on time, but in considering the spiritual effect that their teaching will have on those who are learning from them.
The Bible references this act as ‘feeding the sheep.’ The preacher, teacher, discipleship leader, etc. is, in various ways, providing the spiritual nourishment that God’s people need to sustain and grow their faith. The teacher who is not fed him or herself is in no position to feed others. He or she will lack the strength and the vigor and the perseverance to carry out the task at the level deserved by God’s people because they themselves are malnourished. The teacher should have demonstrated that they have placed himself in a position of disciple. The teacher should be the first to worship. The teacher should have a regular course of Scripture reading in the teacher should be known for their regular and consistent prayer life. Teachers must be fully and completely nourished before attempting to feed others.
Teaching is more than conveying facts and leading discussions. The authority by which the teacher’s words are communicated is inextricably linked to the way in which others see that leading their spiritual lives. The teacher who pronounces the truths of the Bible but doesn’t live with them in their life will be immediately seen as hypocritical and lacking in authority. The teacher lacking in spiritual authority will likely develop disciples of similar character.
Discipling one or ten or a thousand of God’s people is both an enormous privilege and a frightening responsibility. The teachers should be able to envision him or herself presenting their disciples to the Master. Will the Master say well done my good and faithful servant of your teaching?