Teaching for Heart and Mind

I recently listened to an audio recording from Mr. James Hatch, former instructor at Columbia International University. Through his lecture, Mr. Hatch confirmed and reinforced what I have come to realize and understand about teaching. It is a serious thing to teach the Bible. I have been in too many classes where the instructor sought to impart information but had very little focus or desire to see a life change. If that is the state of our teaching, Mr. Hatch says “we’re in trouble.”

In order to see teaching reach both the hearts and minds of students, the teaching must first reach my heart and mind. The Word of God must sink deep into my mind, and I must take time to reflect and allow the Holy Spirit to apply it to my heart and life. Only in this state can my teaching of others reflect depth and authority. Such power comes not from me but rather through the unhindered communication of Truth to life. Practically, this means that a Saturday night composition for a Sunday morning teaching should most certainly not be part of the teacher’s (or preacher’s) process. It is of little wonder that teaching and preaching falls far short in today’s churches and schools. If we hope to truly and faithfully relay God’s precious Word to those under our care, we must allow the Spirit of God to take His Word and carefully and sometimes painfully apply it to the areas of our own lives where we most need it. As Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Yet, if the sword does not first pierce my heart, then my teaching is lifeless from the start.

With the accumulation of much knowledge, we must allow time for proper reflection, meditation and personal application. It is then that the Word of Christ affects our hearts and dwells in us richly. Such richness will overflow from a mind and heart dedicated to Christ and moved with compassion for people. When Jesus was said to be “moved with compassion,” He made a plan to teach the multitudes. He called forth his disciples, and He taught them His words. In turn, they went out to the multitudes with the message of Jesus Christ. I am reminded of a Scripture that began my journey as a teacher which remains a foundation for today. “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2). As the Word reaches and strengthens me, I must be about the business of entrusting life-changing Truth to others who will come to know the person of Christ and continue telling the message of Christ. As I do, I must be sure that my personal practice matches my teaching. I must take great care to see that I am not simply seeking to impart information but that I provide time, opportunities and experiences for the Word to sink deeply into the hearts of my students. As our teaching reaches not only the minds but also the hearts, we are no longer in trouble – we are faithful to God’s Word.

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