Lives that teach
As I turned at the top of the ramp on a jogging trail I frequent, a family of four was just starting down the ramp riding bikes. Clearly visible at the top of the ramp is a large sign that says, “No bike riding on ramp.” The father was patiently instructing the younger of his two children how to be careful riding down the ramp. By ignoring the sign, this man was also teaching his kids to break rules.
At a seminary (not AG) I attended, I took my first compelling classes in church history. These classes were taught by a crusty prof who liked to shock us by, among other things, peppering his lectures with an occasional profanity. The classes were interesting; I learned a lot about history. But I never met a student who respected this teacher or wished to emulate his life. His selective teaching, like the father on the bike ramp, ignored the issue of character. It is easy to teach facts or practics and at the same time teach about something you have specifically chosen not to teach.
When I went from the pastorate to teaching systematic theology in a Christian college, I recognized that, while my new position was not in a church, it was still ministry. Students watch teachers’ lives.
Every person is a teacher in some way. And every person teaches more by what they do than by what they say. It is meaningless to say, “I’m not a role model,” as a highly paid athlete once proclaimed to absolve himself of responsibility. If anyone is watching you, your actions are teaching.
The people in this issue who have dared to step out in faith also have lives that speak volumes. Believers need to have more than words worth listening to. They need to have lives worth emulating.
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.