The Responsibility of Teaching

James 3

1-2 Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.

3-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

As I was reading thru James 3, I am reminded of how powerful our words are. And I am not just talking about the pulpit. James talks about our teaching.

Teaching happens on many different levels – it starts at home as we teach our kids. It happens in our church meetings with staff, leaders, and pastors. In fact, if you meditate on teaching – it happens in our everyday.

They would say that our life is a book – it teaches people something. What we post, how we conduct ourselves, how we do our work preaches a message.

And then the pulpit – we are preachers of the word. We are given a higher level of accountability as what we teach would affect the lives of the people who listen to us. We need to be faithful to the word of God, doing our best to know the context of the text, doing our hermeneutical research before we preach it, and wrestle with the text as we craft our messages.

Yet, it does not end with the pulpit preaching – what we preach is what we need to live out in our community. That is how the gospel concepts take shape – in the flesh.

So when James tells us not to be in a rush to teach – it tells us of the power of our preaching and the application of it. I pray that as pastors and church leaders, we treat our work as sacred and give it the best we can both in words and practice.

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