My life has been enriched by my teachers. I can still remember every teacher I had from kindergarten all the way through college. The older I get the greater the sense of indebtedness I have for them.
There were other teachers in my life, too, because those in academics. Pastors and Sunday School teachers influenced my spiritual life through their lessons. Mentors and seminar instructors taught me skills in my profession and calling.
The same was true when I played sports. Many view a coach primarily as a motivator, and he must do that to be effective. However, there must be something concrete that the athlete is motivated to accomplish and that is a specific skill. This is only accomplished through good teaching. John Wooden, the well-known basketball coach of UCLA saw himself as a teacher more than a coach. My best coaches were all excellent teachers.
All of these people influenced my life in different areas and I am very grateful for them. I didn’t know that when I took typing from Edward Stidger at Stone Jr. High School that it would be one of the most important classes I ever took. I type every day of my life and am able to do it well because of his help.
I had no idea when my history teacher in the 8th grade, Jackie Casey, required us to carefully outline each chapter of our textbook precisely according to the rules of outlining that I would write thousands and thousands of outlines for sermons.
I had no clue when Lynn Fortner was teaching me about not using an “indefinite you” and Katie Stacha was assigning me creative writing projects that writing would be the dominant part of my calling as a pastor and preacher.
I simply mention these school teachers (and I could list many more) as examples. My teachers at church and college and my coaches also marked me deeply with their influence.
The best teachers ought to be parents. In a sense, we oversee the training of our children and delegate aspects of it to others. If a parent totally abandons the teaching of their children to other people (and all of us need help to equip our children for the future), they forfeit something that is very precious and valuable.
When someone teaches us a skill or instructs us so that we are impacted we naturally have admiration and respect for them. Sometimes the esteem we give to them lasts for a lifetime, and rightfully so. Parents forfeit this admiration from their children when they are not involved in the teaching process at all.
It may not be an academic subject and probably won’t be that you gain their respect. My father taught me to endure tough times and to be faithful. My mother taught me propriety and to honor your friends at significant times in their lives. I have written a lot about this in previous posts and won’t belabor the point, but they have influenced me more than all of my teachers combined.
There are two crucial areas where parents must excel in teaching their children. The first is concerning the Word of God. Again, while others certainly help us in this task, the primary responsibility of teaching the Bible to our children is given to parents (Deuteronomy 4:9; Ephesians 6:4). We cannot totally delegate this vital work.
A second responsibility is the example we set before our kids. In fact, our example far outweighs our words when we teach. People do what people see. Parents are to be the models of what they want their children to be.
“The songs we sing, the words we speak,
the doctrines that we teach,
will have their greatest meaning
when we practice what we preach”.
Emerson wrote, “Every great institution is the lengthened shadow of a single man. his character determines the character of the organization”. I think this is most true in a family. Children need strong examples and models of character, not just lectures and moralizing. This is the best kind of teaching!
May I encourage you to take a moment and remember someone that taught you something and let them know of your gratitude and precisely how they helped you.
As parents, let’s take some time and consider some ways we can invest into the lives of our children this week – whether they are toddlers or whether they are in mid-life. Maybe it’s just some extra time to read them a book, sitting down to write them and tell them some of the positive values and virtues you see in their lives, or just sending them a copy of a good book you have read.
We influence at a deep level when we teach well. And those that receive it – they never forget what you have done for them.