Everyone teaches. Everyone learns. Everyone leads. Everyone follows. These exist as passive or active realities in every person’s life. These truths confront me daily, and I must choose whether they live in a positive or negative way.
You get to make the same choice. Everyone makes this choice, some deliberately and intentionally, others by letting life happen to them and allowing negative habits and influences to shape their existence.
Several sources combined to stir my thoughts on this topic.
My view of The Great Commission expanded recently as I changed from just seeing it as a whole to better understanding each individual part. The inescapable aspect of it that seems to be gripping me more and more involves teaching.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
In my observations of the church, we are pretty good at the making and baptizing (or at least focusing there). But, sometimes, the “teach” part seems neglected. Well, I guess more so teaching to be disciples. We’re also pretty good at teaching to serve, an important part of being a disciple.
But what troubles me, and what my mind struggles putting into words, I find expressed well by the discovery of Bill Hybels (founder of the Willow Creek Church movement) when he surveyed his own members. Here’s what Hybels discovered:
“Heavy involvement in church programs did not translate into spiritual growth and maturity.”
In the article “What Non-Christians Really Think of Us,” the late Charles Colson discussed the following:
“What the Church needs to do is to make disciples, to grow people in the faith, not be spectators. We must teach them what Christians believe and how to live out these doctrines in all of life. Like Hybels, church leaders need to examine whether they are making disciples and encouraging holy living.”
On a personal level, this translate into looking into my own role as a teacher and a leader. At the same time, I must examine my own learning as well as following.
Before we begin discussing these thoughts, consider the perspectives the following resources provide.
The post “Is Everyone Gifted to Be a Teacher?” by Chris Patton at Christian Faith at Work begins a series addressing the idea that every person’s calling involves being a teacher. While not everyone holds a formal teaching position and not everyone may be described as a “gifted” teacher, every Christian should teach others. Read the series to find out more. It’s well worth your time.
The Leadership Mandate – Book Recommendation
First, the book provides a terrific exploration of the basic elements of leadership. The elements Dan discusses must exist in order for someone to be an effective leader. What I liked the most about the elements he lists and discusses is that the first one involves leading yourself since an effective leader must lead himself successfully.
Second, my boys need to read this book. Because Dan simplifies the essential elements of leadership so well, The Leadership Mandate is a great resource for new leaders wanting specific action items that will help develop them as leaders. (My 14-year-old did in fact read the book & found some helpful tips he plans to immediately apply.)
(Note: When you purchase The Leadership Mandate now through October 7th, you will receive some terrific bonuses – 6 of them actually! Check out Dan Black on Leadership for more details on these bonuses!)
Time for Discussion
Do we have any business being teachers if we are not also students?
And, what effectiveness can we have as godly leaders if we are not also godly followers?
Is every Christian called to teach?
How does learning to lead yourself successfully fit into The Great Commission, if at all?
Lastly, how can the church improve at teaching disciples?