When we think about great teachers, we often think about pastors and professionals. But in truth, most of our teachers are not professionals. They are ordinary men and women who have a genuine relationship with God, through Christ, and God uses them to reach and to teach his people. Two significant teachers in my life – Leonard and Katherine – had no degrees or titles to their name, other than ‘faithful follower s of Jesus’.
Paul encourages the Colossians to ‘teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.’ (3:16) Notice that he does not define a hierarchy of teachers, or say: ‘Those of you ordained should teach….’ Paul expected all Christians to ‘teach and admonish one another’ with wisdom. Every person in the pews bears the privilege and responsibility of teaching.
There is a clear logic to this section of Colossians, beginning in 3:10. People are to put on Christ, like a new set of clothes, exhibiting unity, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love. As they do that, the peace of Christ rules over their hearts, hearts in which the word of Christ dwells richly. Such people can teach and admonish others. (Admonishment, a mild form of correction, is a way of demonstrating the love of Christ.)
The classroom is a great place to learn, but God’s preferred method of teaching is one-on-one. We learn best when people more mature in the faith take us ‘under their wing’ and invest their time and wisdom into us. We worry far too much about credentials and gender when it comes to who is able to teach. We worry far too little about what matters most: has this person been in intimate fellowship with Jesus? Those are the people, like Katherine and Leonard, we must look to, to teach and admonish us with wisdom.
God has given each of us the ability and responsibility to teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. This day I will honour that blessing by being open to being taught, and to teaching, when the situation arises.
Gracious Abba, thank you for the teachers and mentors you have placed in my life. Help me to honour them and to thank them for their courage to teach me. And use me to help others as you see fit. Amen.
What is the most challenging part of admonishing others?