There is a great honor attached to teaching the Word of God. This exercise is the most sacred trust one can imagine. Unfortunately, there are those, on occasion, who want the honor that attends that lofty role, yet they are unwilling to pay the price that accompanies the responsibility. What are some of the costs that accompany this sober responsibility?
The teacher must be an example — in life, in spiritual fervor. Luke wrote concerning that which Jesus both practiced and taught (cf. Acts 1:1; cf. 1 Tim. 4:12).
No one who is careless in church attendance, who shows virtually no interest in the lost, who dresses provocatively, who is addicted to harmful substances, who is known to be worldly, etc., needs to be in a teaching capacity. There are many sincere people who are struggling to overcome such problems, and for this they are to be applauded. But folks must realize that there is a certain level of maturity to be achieved before one may assume the revered role of a public teacher of the Scriptures.
The teacher must be willing to spend considerable time in diligent study so as to be qualified as an accurate instructor of the Scriptures. Off-the-cuff, sloppy preparation can jeopardize the souls of honest people. Those who busy themselves with mundane matters all week, and then bore their students with a hastily thrown-together, Sunday-morning presentation, are contributing to the disinterest of our youth. Is it any wonder that many congregations consist mainly of older folks these days?
Too, a good teacher will invest money in appropriate study tools to help qualify himself or herself in Bible knowledge. A study of history, geography, language, etc., is vital for the well-qualified instructor.
A good teacher must be patient and compassionate with his or her students. One who is ill-tempered, lacking in understanding, impatient, explosive, etc., can do more harm in attempting to teach than if he or she had simply refrained. A godly teacher will love his fellowman and value the soul above all else.
A teacher must be sound in his religious convictions. It is important what a man believes. Those who subscribe to false ideas regarding the plan of salvation, the church, worship, the nature of the Bible, and moral issues (e.g., divorce/remarriage) must not be permitted to spread their error. Church leaders who reason: “Well, I know he holds some unorthodox ideas in certain areas, but he has agreed not to express them,” simply are deceiving themselves.
In view of these requirements, it becomes easier to understand why the inspired writer James admonishes: “Be not many of you teachers” (3:1). It is not that he would discourage teaching; it is just that we must take this responsibility very seriously. The future of the church depends upon its teaching program. Let us attempt to do a more responsible job.