I remember the first time I really took to heart those words. Pastor Mike was speaking from James and it hit home. I had taught for years in the churches I had attended, and in church preschools. Until that moment, though, teaching was just something I enjoyed doing, sharing information that sometimes people wanted, and sometimes they didn’t. I know that all teachers are trainers, but not all trainers are teachers.
It is amazing how you can read, even think you understand the scripture, and then suddenly it really becomes a two-edged sword…
It has been suggested, by many folks, that I overanalyze things. Perhaps. Okay, yeah, I do. But that message and my analyzing of it took me on a journey to determine why I taught, how I taught, and even if I should even be teaching. The process changed my outlook on teaching, gave it a richer meaning, a deeper sense of responsibility and accountability. I was humbled, relying not on my teaching as a proof of what I knew, but seeking wisdom from God to use the knowledge I had to give students what they needed because judgment awaited me. But not a judgment as the world sees it, as the world uses that word. At that point in my life, I understood what all of James was saying in relation to the leading statement of James 3: Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
So when I was offered a teaching position in a private Christian school I could accept it with confidence, because I knew I was trusting God to tame my tongue and keep my heart pure for these young people. And I could enjoy it, even the difficult times, because I knew at that point in my life I was fully in God’s Will.
A few years later I started working on my master’s degree in Spiritual Formation through an accredited online seminary, and one of the books I was required to read was The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer. I still have the book, even though life circumstances didn’t allow me to complete my degree, I gained a lot in those classes. I was a bit surprised at first by the book because it was not a book on teaching, Biblical or otherwise. It was a book about being a teacher, and what the life of a teacher is all about. Relationships, responsibilities, joys, sorrows…not just in classroom situations, but in all levels of life; jobs, communities, governmental positions – anything in life that required the heart of a teacher.
I saw it on the bookshelf the other day and decided to pick it up and read it again. Mostly because I don’t teach anymore, or at least that’s what I’ve told myself. Oh, I blog, and I share my own life learnings, but something has been missing. All that to say, I’m going to take some time to read the book, pray about James 3 and then make decisions about some things in my life. And so, after this week, the blog is taking a sabbatical.
Keep seeking God. Keep trusting God. And, sooner or later, if it’s His Will, I’ll be back.
God bless you all! – Vicki
James 3 (ESV)
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.