I’m currently undergoing an education degree. Training to be a teacher. And throughout my first year, I learnt some of the qualities and disciplines required of a good teacher.
In looking back on 2016, I began a summary of the key qualities to a proficient teacher. Just jotted some bullet points onto paper. And being a Jesus follower, knowing his claim to be our teacher, I looked at the list and asked myself one question:
How would Jesus stack up to the list?
CHECKING THE LIST
In Part 1 we covered three of the bullet points. A good teacher has proficient knowledge of the content, has a passion for the topic and students, and knows how to convey the content in relevant and understandable ways.
Jesus aced the test. In fact, he far surpasses the standards of a good teacher. But now we turn our attention to three more qualities of a good teacher. So get your red pens out.
Because it’s time to give Jesus a grade.
- A good teacher sets clear classroom standards
Any good teacher knows the need for clear classroom standards. This is undeniably one of the most crucial components to an effective teacher.
No stealing. No swearing. Put your hand up before you speak. Put your rubbish in the bin. Respect the property of others. Standards like these are necessary for a thriving classroom. They are in place to create the best possible classroom environment.
Without rules, chaos reigns.
And not just in the classroom, but in life. Rules and standards govern almost every facet of life in some way. Consider our road rules and criminal laws. Most of us would be dead without them. Because you see, such rules increase the quality and quantity of life.
And so any good teacher makes the standards known. Likewise, any good teacher makes it known what the consequences of actions outside of the rules are.
‘For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.’ (1 John 5:3)
God makes his standards known to us.
We see this in the Ten Commandments most clearly (Exodus 20). But Jesus takes things to the next level in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:17-48). Such standards are maintained in order that we can have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).
I was having a conversation with a workmate (and open sceptic of Christianity) recently. His criticism is very common. In a nutshell, he said that he detests the thought of a God who sets up rules just to send us to hell. That God cannot be loving if he does this.
Consider this. Nobody criticises a teacher as unloving and unjust for maintaining clear standards. The standards indicate the teacher is loving. They indicate the teacher wants the best for the students. The absence of guidelines would be much more concerning.
Jesus shows us the way to life. Namely himself. But more on that a little later.
- A good teacher is a role model
You cannot just lay down the law and expect everyone to follow it.
It would be wrong to ask more of the students than the teacher is willing to give of themselves. And so any good teacher submits themselves to the same rules they lay down. Actions consistent with words. Words consistent with actions.
Any good teacher leads by example.
Consider the picture below. A good teacher inspires from the front. They should be a gentle glow that warms to all students. A spark of hope to those far from the light. A burning desire to see everyone reach their potential. An enduring flame committed to getting everything out of themselves. Consistent, reliable, motivated, compassionate.
It all starts from the top. And once the flame is caught, good luck stopping it.
Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21)
Jesus is our perfect example.
The law fulfilled (Matt 5:17). The Word of God embodied (John 1:1-14). These claims carry a lot of meaning. Mega meaning. And honestly, there isn’t enough hours in the day to fully unpack the truth behind it. But at the very least we can say this:
His words are totally consistent with his actions.
Jesus preached love for one another. And then he loved even the most difficult people (John 13:34, Luke 7:22). Jesus preached gritty generosity and forgiveness. And then he gave himself over to death so that we could be forgiven (Luke 6:37, Luke 23:34).
Jesus preached faith in the teeth of persecution. And then he was rejected, whipped and crucified (Matt 16:24, Matt 27, 1 Peter 2:21). Jesus promised eternal life to his followers. And then he proved it three days later (Matt 5:10-12, Matt 28:1-10).
Jesus practices what he preaches. He leads us by example. And the flame he ignited 2000 odd years ago is still burning as bright and spreading as far as ever.
- A good teacher sacrifices time to help students
You can lay down the law. You can even be an example for the students to follow. But then we face a problem. A big problem.
Students struggle. From disruptive behaviour to simply not understanding a topic. From bullying to hygiene issues. Language barriers to incorrect uniform. Conflicts in the yard to friendship issues. Physical disability to emotional insecurity. Anger to isolation.
Students need a lot of help.
And so a good teacher is committed to helping students in the struggle. They stay in at lunch with a struggling student. Arrange meetings with parents. Make phone calls to resolve conflicts. Spend time after school to help.
You see, a good teacher makes sacrifices.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
Jesus makes known to us the rules and standards required for life in his classroom. Jesus even embodies to us the perfect fulfilment of them. But we are just his students.
And we need a lot of help.
Seeing our deep need, Jesus placed himself in the middle of our problems. Amidst poverty. Surrounded by violence. He entered the ugliness of the world in order to bring us out of it. In order to provide a hope that extends beyond the grave (Hebrews 6:19).
This is not your average lunchtime counselling session or phone call for help. Because Jesus didn’t just sacrifice his time. He sacrificed his life.
And that makes Jesus no ordinary teacher.
Head over to Part 3, where we unpack three more bullet points and the teaching credentials of this Jesus.