On Friday, we celebrated Teachers’ Day. All of us have fond memories of teachers who have impacted and changed our lives. We often forget the people we might have encountered along the process of work, but a teacher, we almost never forget.
We remember them not just for the subjects they taught us but, more than anything, for out interactions with them. These interactions comforted us, affirmed us, gave us confidence, directed us in the right path, and let us know that someone cared.
In truth, the task of teaching and instruction is inescapable for all of us. As parents, we’ve to teach and raise our children. In the workplace, there’ll always be newer staff whom we need to show the ropes to. In our families, we’ve nieces and nephews whom we interact with and guide. In our circle of friends, we teach one another new things we’ve learnt.
We pass on life lessons all the time to those around us. Our actions, character and life convey an unspoken instruction to those we come into contact with. This is a task that none of us can escape. If that be the case, may we not decide today that we want our lives to be a positive lesson to those around us?
One of the favourite titles of our Lord Jesus is Rabbi, or teacher. His life was exemplary and effective. People saw His ministry, His love and integrity, and they came to Him for instruction. He was asked by His followers to teach them how to pray and how to grow in faith, among many other things. He corrected them when they had contentions among themselves. He answered their questions when they were confused. He taught in parables and explained things they did not understand. Above all, He empowered and sent them out.
The one thing that isn’t obvious about being a good teacher is this last thing – to give permission and to release.
It’s said that a good leader creates followers, but a great leader creates leaders. Might this not be insightful when we consider the greatest role that teachers play? I’m quite certain a teacher’s objective is never to keep a student with him/her forever. Instead, the great joy of any teacher is to see students promoted from their class to the next level and achieve success beyond themselves.
This is exactly what our great Rabbi did. There was a moment in the Lord’s life when He announced to His followers that He’d not be with them physically any more. But, instead of sadness, He said it with joy and expectation. He said so because, in His absence, they’d have the opportunity to rise to greatness themselves. In fact, Jesus declared to them that ‘greater works’ they’d do because of His departure back to the Father.
I can’t help but be amazed by how much Jesus limited Himself during His ministry on earth. He restricted Himself geographically such that He remained only in parts of modern day Israel. He limited His audience primarily to the Jews. He left no standing institutions, buildings nor organisations. He wrote no books (though HE IS the Word). Yet, in contrast, His ‘students’ went well beyond the boundaries of Israel to the uttermost parts of the earth.
His ‘students’ have reached billions compared to the thousands that He,Himself ministered directly to. They planted churches, established Bible schools, and created charities. They’ve written books, constitutions of nations, and scholastic works that have changed the world.
Doesn’t this give us a sense of measurement that’s so different from what we’re accustomed to? Maybe true success is not about what we’ve accomplished but how we’ve engendered others to rise to greatness. That’s what makes teaching such an admirable profession. It’s to fully employ our skills and energy, not to aid ourselves but help others reach their highest potential.
Teaching is a ‘humble’ profession. Yet without it, there’ll be no presidents nor prime ministers. There’ll be no entrepreneurs nor doctors. It doesn’t matter which station in life we’re at, we can all look back to see a teacher who stood tall in our lives and made a lasting impact. We salute, in our midst, in every sense of the word – our ‘teacher’.
Ps. Lim Lip Yong