Bible Teacher’s Role as a Friend

Some might question if students should be friends with their students due to the potential to lessen their sense of authority as a teacher. That, in turn, they say could affect discipline as well as their credibility with students. If we look at Jesus’ example, we’ll find the opposite to be true.

Bible Teachers who Take on the Role of a Friend Emulate the Master Teacher

Jesus, the Master Teacher as a FriendPeople in Jesus’ day noticed His penchant for being a friend to those He served (Matt. 11:19). And, the Bible even records Jesus calling His disciples, those He taught, His friends.

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)

Certainly calling the disciples friends did not minimize His authority with them. Quite the opposite as 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, 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).

  • Bible teachers, do your students know you truly care about them, like friends? Is it possible some of the discipline problems you’ve experienced could be your students testing you to see if you truly care? Is it possible they’re not listening or cooperating because they don’t sense the same coming from you?

Jesus’ Motivation for Being a Friend Made the Difference

Calling His disciples friends did not minimize Jesus’ authority because of the love behind that friendship. He didn’t assume the role of friend to manipulate them into liking or following Him by getting on their level. It was a healthy, not dysfunctional, sort of friendship because it grew out of divine love.

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)

  • Bible teachers, do you love your students enough to sacrifice your resources, 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, contacting students outside of class, etc.?

The Kind of Friendship Students Need from their Bible Teachers

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:

acceptance
affirmation
availability
attentiveness
authenticity

We’ll look at each of these traits in upcoming posts.

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