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Scott Allen September 21, 2016

Leadership Conversation – Able to Teach


Today we get to the quality of an elder that has, in the past, been a dis-qualifier within the leadership selection processes.  Here it is.  Is he able to teach…some translations say, is he apt to teach? 

When I was 26 years old, I accepted a job as a teacher at my old High School.  It was a private school located in the heart of Arlington.  Don’t bother looking for it…it is now parking lot 15 B for the new Cowboy Stadium.  My job was to teach theater, bible, speech and…are you ready for this…8th grade earth science.  I had my degree in theater…I knew my bible…I knew the basics of speech, but Earth Science?  That was a challenge.  And teaching it to 8th graders?  even more challenging.  I will say that for those 2 years, that was one of my most challenging classes.  I struggled to make it exciting, yet relevant.  The presentation suffered and the attention spans weren’t always there…partly because they were 8th graders, but primarily because I had not really mastered the content.  I was learning right alongside of them in many ways….which should be the case if you are a life long student.  But it had been so long since I had taken this class that I was merely sharing information…and not really teaching.

As I think through this quality of able to teach, I think back to my days as a teacher and think, what if I had mastered that content?  How much more of an influence could I have been?  Would those students have been able to learn and retain that knowledge?  Maybe if I had have mastered the content, I could have inspired rather than relayed the information.  I was a teacher.  I could relay info…so does that Mean I am apt to teach?  Probably…but there is something deeper within this idea. 

When churches are selecting their leaders, we often find that the quiet ones are oftentimes overlooked because they aren’t teaching a class or able to facilitate a large group of people.  We see their lack of classroom teaching to be a disqualifier.  But what if these men had mastered the content, but weren’t gifted to teach a class or even a large group of people?  During this time, churches weren’t filled with large rooms, podiums and display screens.  The culture was different, which means that there is a deeper question here.  What if we took out the idea of teaching in a class setting?  Or in a combined Class with 200 people?  What if we looked at this idea in more simple terms? 

Is this man capable of teaching Scripture to others?

The primary strategy for personal and corporate transformation is not excellent programming,  but rather the patient teaching of Scripture (2 Timothy 4:2). 

2 proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.

This encouragement does not look like something that would be done in a formal class setting.  How often can you rebuke in a formal class setting?  Or convince?  This is describing something that is done through a personal relationship in an informal setting. 

The first requirement of a good teacher is not presentation skills, but mastery of content. Which leads to the 2nd deeper question. 

Has this man given himself to study of Scripture and to filling himself with the Word of God?

These are more important questions that we should be asking rather than whether or not this man is a good in front of people.    

We see in Acts Chapter 18 that there are 2 people who show what it means to be able to teach.  Apollos was a gifted Speaker and teacher.  He had come to Ephesus and was speaking to the crowds.  Two people named Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak. He was brilliant, but he didn’t have the whole story.  So they took him aside and and in a personal way, explained the way more accurately to him.  Some people theorize that Apollos may have written the book of Hebrews.  And if this is true, then that means that Priscilla and Aquila were able to teach the teacher.  We don’t hear about Priscilla or Aquila teaching large crowds, but we see them teaching Apollos.  This is what it means to be ‘able to teach.’  Able to explain scripture to others…someone who has mastered the content…given himself over to the study of it. 

Who do you know that has given themselves to the study of scripture?  Who do you know that is capable of explaining it to others?   

Maybe you haven’t thought this deeply about this quality.  Maybe you have disqualified someone because of their lack of presentation skills or maybe you have disqualified yourself because you didn’t feel as if you could teach a large group of people?  If so, I encourage you to look at this through from this perspective and consider what God is leading you to do.