Bible Teacher’s Role as Servant

Servant Bible Teachers Serve as Jesus Served
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We are all God’s servants regardless of position or type of ministry (1 Cor. 3:5). We follow the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1) who humbled Himself and took on the nature of a servant (Phil. 2:6-7). He came to serve rather than be served (Matt. 20:28).

As Bible teachers, we have many opportunities to demonstrate that servanthood.

What Being a Servant Looks Like in Bible Teachers

Servant teachers are in it for the right reasons, motivated by love and compassion rather than duty, there to serve and not be served.

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Gal. 5:13)

They see themselves first and foremost as God’s servants, accountable to Him, instruments in His hands, stewards of what He has given them to do, working in cooperation with God and not the other way around.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. … So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. … (1 Cor. 3:5-15)

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Pet. 5:2-3)

They treat those who seem unlovable, difficult, hard to reach, and those who criticize or with whom they have differences of opinion, with gentleness and respect, not having to come across as always right, always the winner.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth … (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

Bible teachers who are servants show it in their attitudes not just how they treat students.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:5-8)

They are more concerned about showing off Jesus than thinking about their own status, humbly accepting praise and graciously learning from criticism.

The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matt. 23:11-12)

Being a servant teacher often means sacrificing time, willing to prepare, setup, and connect with students even when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable.

being found in appearance as a man humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:8)

Teachers there to serve relinquish the need to control, giving choices in the learning experience, not expecting responses to exactly replicate their expectations, etc.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.” (Matt. 20:25-26a)

Servant teachers find ways to adapt, not needing to always push their own agendas.

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. … I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Cor. 9:19-22)

As servants, they willingly tend to the more menial and non-gratifying types of tasks to enhance the learning experience, not getting caught up in pride and superiority as the upfront teacher or viewing certain tasks as below them.

… Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. … (Jn. 13:3-17)

Teachers who take their role as servants seriously demonstrate Christ-likeness, becoming a good example for others to follow.

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. (Matt. 20:28)

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 11:1)

Bible Teacher’s Role as a Motivator

Spur One Another On
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The Bible teacher doesn’t actually motivate but more so connects with what already motivates students and guides them to the next step. In doing so, we follow God’s instruction in Hebrews 10:24 to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” So, we’re looking at their role as motivators because God does use Bible teachers in the process.

To be an effective motivator the teacher needs to:

  1. know basic motivations based on age level to connect with developmental needs

Training Resource: Reaching All Age Levels

Articles:

  1. know students’ backgrounds, interests, and learning styles to connect with preferred ways of learning

Teacher Training Resource: My Style – Their Style – Learning Styles Worksheet

  1. know the spiritual condition or growth level of their students to connect with the longing of their heart to know God better

Teacher Training Resource: The Teacher’s Role in Discipling Students toward Spiritual Growth

To Motivate Spiritually, Bible Teachers Must Connect Students with the Lord:

A Bible teacher will be used by God to motivate students when they begin where students are and point them to the Lord who …

1) will meet their needs (Phil. 4:19)
2) will care about them as individuals (Ps. 139)
3) will provide the grace to grow (Col. 1:6; 2 Pet. 3:18)

To look at the Bible teacher’s role as a motivator from other angles, check out these resources:

Bible Teachers’ Role as Communicators

Best Communicators Engage in Mutual ExchangeWhen we talk about Bible teachers as communicators, we must first define what that means. While it certainly does involve the transmission of information, at its best, communication requires a mutual exchange and engagement in the process.

The best communicators go beyond merely telling people what they need to know.

  • They try to get people to think for themselves rather than merely spoon-feeding them information.
  • They take students to higher levels of learning, helping them not only know truth but understand it and use it.

The best communicators engage students in the process.

  • They seek to engage as many senses as possible, not just hearing.
  • They don’t just lecture but rather use a variety of student-oriented methods.
  • They ask lots of questions.
  • Even in large groups they give students opportunity to respond, if simply by a raise of hands or holding up a colored paper to indicate their response or perhaps turning to a neighbor to respond.

The best communicators seek to illustrate in order to increase understanding.

  • They use relevant visuals.
  • They try to paint word pictures when visuals aren’t available.
  • They frequently use stories to help students see what the truth looks like in real life.

The best communicators speak on the level of their students.

  • They understand age level characteristics and abilities of their students.
  • They get to know the backgrounds, interests, and needs of students so they can use relevant illustrations.

The best communicators know when to be quiet and listen.

  • They aren’t afraid of a little silence to give students opportunity to think about their responses.
  • They focus on what students are saying rather than formulating their responses.
  • They allow for dialog among students without having to always inject their own thoughts.

The best communicators follow Jesus’ example.

  • They exhibit Christ-like responses and reactions.
  • They interact with students with the love and compassion of Christ.
  • For more, go to: Christ-like Communication

Bible Teacher’s Role as a Friend

I’ve heard people say teachers can’t be friends with their students because it lessens their sense of authority in the classroom which could affect discipline and credibility. What I have found, however, is that it works just the opposite when teachers are true friends, not just trying to be friends. But, don’t just take my word, look at Jesus, the Master Teacher.

Bible Teachers Should Emulate the Master Teacher in Considering Students Friends

Jesus Calls Us His FriendsShouldn’t we be following Christ’s example in our role as Bible teachers, not merely doing what seems like common sense or human rationale?

Jesus Himself called His disciples, those He taught, His friends. He said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn. 15:15). He was even criticized for being “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19).

Certainly calling the disciples friends did not minimize His authority with them. Quite the opposite, Jesus, full of love and compassion toward people, was acknowledged as one who spoke with authority (Lk. 4:31-32). It was actually those who didn’t enter into relationship with Him who questioned His authority (Lk. 20:2; Jn. 2:18).

And, that friendship did not keep His disciples from obeying but rather made them want to love (1 Jn. 4:19) and obey Him all the more (Jn. 14:15; 15:14).

The Bible Teacher’s Role as a Friend Must Grow Out of Love for Them

Calling His disciples friends did not minimize Jesus’ authority because of the love behind that friendship. When students know you truly care about them, like friends, they tend to be more cooperative and ready to listen.

Over the course of time, the disciples would come to understand how much He truly loved them as His friends. — “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn. 15:13) Do you love your students enough to sacrifice of your time and convenience in preparing lessons, missing your own classes or worship service in order to teach them, using your own resources to make things special if not in the church budget, etc.?

Practical Ways Teachers can Extend Friendship toward their Students

Perhaps you will never be called upon to lay down your physical life for your students but there are plenty of other ways to extend friendship, like being:

  • accepting, building an atmosphere where students feel they belong
  • affirming, letting student know they matter by following-up on absences, acknowledging accomplishments and special occasions, etc.
  • available, investing yourself into their live both inside and out of the classroom
  • attentive, listening not just talking at them
  • authentic, being real with them