My oldest daughter, Laura, has just wrapped up the fall semester teaching multiple classes at two different homeschool co-ops, along with a variety of different classes for both adults and children at a local art studio. Her classes turned out very well, but what she has discovered after a few years of leading classes and creating original art for contract work is that teaching art is vastly different from simply creating it. While both tasks require knowledge, technical skill and a lot of patience and practice, teaching (especially to children) necessitates a deeper level of understanding. It requires the ability to explain the concepts, and guide students in developing their skills so they can ultimately become independent and proficient artists on their own.
I believe that’s exactly what Jesus had in mind when He included the ‘teaching’ requirement in the Great Commission.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. – Matthew 28:19-20
Once a person accepts Christ as his or her savior, it’s easy to feel like the work is done, but Jesus made it clear that the process of making disciples is long and involved, (read more on that here) and the real ‘heavy lifting’ of developing these disciples lies in teaching. However, as with an illustration or painting, a person cannot teach what they don’t know and haven’t first integrated into their own lives. That’s why the starting point of instructing other believers always begins with a discipler’s personal commitment to learning and establishing the Word of God as the sole foundation upon which they stand, and the only standard by which they evaluate the validity of what they hear and how they make their decisions.
Unfortunately, most (including too many Christians) go through life interpreting the reliability and trustworthiness of the messages that come to them based on nothing more concrete than the advice of their peers or on their own judgment. When we start our reasoning process from that standpoint, we’ll easily bend to the influence of the world and constantly find our decisions far afield of God’s perspective. The only thing that solidifies our position is when it rests on a foundation of God’s unchanging principles.
Once we have ourselves been “trained in righteousness,” (2 Tim 3:16) then we will become useful tools in the hands of the Holy Spirit to instruct others as He transforms them from an empty canvas into beautiful masterpieces for His glory.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:10