Yesterday I taught James 3 which includes every Bible teacher’s favorite verse, that sober warning that “not many of you should become teachers…for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1)
Yeah. That verse. Not exactly every Bible teacher’s favorite.
I’m not going to lie, it was with a good deal of humility and no small amount of trepidation that I stood before my class yesterday and read that verse aloud, which is, I suppose, James’ point after all.
The NIV reads that not many should “presume” to be teachers. Obviously there were those seeking the position who were either unprepared for or ignorant of the responsibility. No doubt there were some seeking the prestige and authority of the teaching role for more selfish and frivolous motivations.
As I prepared my lesson, however, and even now as I reflect back on the passage, I wonder about today: do many seek to become teachers? Presumption aside, is there an influx of “many” who desire the teaching gift?
Admittedly my sphere of observation is rather small but I don’t see it. Men or women but particularly women. Surely the Lord is gifting and equipping women to teach; where are they? And maybe I am speaking less about the evangelical / Internet / Twitter subculture and more about the real world in which I live.
I posed the question yesterday to my group and someone suggested maybe James scared them all away! Hey, I can see that. He scares me too! I don’t think that’s his intention though. I think he would say to us to if you’ve been given the desire and gift to teach then teach in the power and gifting and grace of Spirit…but do so in fear and trembling.
Teaching has been for me, and will (I hope) continue to be, an exercise in humility. Sometimes I dread it almost as much as I love it. Only motherhood has served to expose my hypocrisy and my weakness and my insufficiency more than teaching.
But there is also no other area of my spiritual walk in which I have seen the Lord’s grace and sufficiency and provision more clearly than through teaching. Vulnerable though it is, teaching has been His gift to me, His grace to me, His immeasurable goodness to me. I cannot believe this is my privilege and my responsibility.
Some Tuesdays when I walk up to the podium and I look across the room at my friends and fellow Bible students sitting there with their Bibles open in their laps, their faces eager, their spirits expectant, I am so overwhelmed. The Lord is good. His gifts are good. I am so unworthy.
If you think maybe you might could perhaps teach but you just don’t know, I want to encourage you. James is right; it is a fearsome thing. But it is also a joy. Teaching–even I would say, women teaching women–is a needed ministry for the edification of the church and the equipping of the saints.
Yes, it’s true, not many should become teachers but then again maybe some of you should…