04 Feb Teachers Preparing Gen-Next to be Leaders
I had always wanted to be a teacher! As I was finishing my MTech in IIT, Madras in 1965, my professors wanted me
to complete Ph. D. and join them on the staff. God, apparently, had different plans! He ‘threw’ me into a corrupt government system in spite of my desire to be in the ‘safe’ job of teaching! However, by the grace of God, I did reasonably well for 28 years in the government and for nearly 19 years in Christian work. In retrospect, what I thank God for is that during that period till the present day, He has given me the privilege of investing in the younger generation even as my seniors invested in me in order to contribute to what I am today.
In this brief article, I want to share a few random thoughts on role models that helped me and that may be useful in your own commitment to pass on to the next generation what has been given to you – 2 Tim.2:2:.. I have come to the conclusion that the vision that the Lord gives to us as individuals and as members of the Church, Christian organization, etc. should be large enough to outlast us, the visionaries. If the vision is small enough to be fulfilled in our own lifetime, we may actually be building our own personal empires and kingdoms rather than the Kingdom of God. Sadly, we have too many examples of the latter in our country.
.. Once we grasp the immense scope of what God is seeking to do, we realise that we need to prepare the next generation to carry on the baton that we would be passing on to them when the time comes for us to leave. There are two good biblical examples:
Moses was given the grand vision of leading the people of God from Egypt to Canaan; but the vision was to be fulfilled, not in his lifetime, but by his successor, Joshua, whom he had trained for 40 years. The other example is King David who had the strong passion to build a temple for his God; but it was Solomon, his son, who had to carry out the task but it should be noted that David had amply provided for the job. .. A common sight that one sees in foundation stones of public buildings are the names of politicians, architects and engineers inscribed on them; these were the ones who were responsible for those buildings in one way or another. It is an extremely satisfying emotion to see one’s name permanently inscripturated on them! But, as a matter of personal discipline, I, as a civil engineer, refused to have my name put on any of the public buildings that I had contributed to; the reason was that I saw my responsibility more as that of building people than buildings! Sadly however, the people that you invest in are more elusive than the buildings that you build – they do not stay in one place and some of them may turn out to be disappointments! Jesus invested three and a half years of His precious life in building people, one of whom turned out to be a bad egg. In terms of career achievement, the life of Jesus should be called a failure; but the fact that His investment in His disciples has profusely multiplied itself is proven by the fact that, 2000 year later, in a far-away country like India, people like you and I are talking about Him!
.. In John 14:12, Jesus makes an astonishing statement – He wants His disciples to be capable of doing greater things than He Himself! There has been a lot of theological discussion as to the ways in which His disciples achieved greater things than Jesus. But without getting into that debate, it is extremely signifi cant for us as next generation trainers to pray and work that those whom we train would excel us in one way or another. In this way, we will not be threatened when people whom we train turn out so well that we are able to happily hand over leadership to them without hanging on to our positions. Acts 13:1 begins with Barnabas as head of the church in Antioch in which Saul was no.5. When reach v.42 of that chapter, we find Barnabas taking a no. 2 position under Paul – WOW!!
.. One of my favourite passages for Christian teachers is Prov. 8:22-32. Personified Wisdom, that is a type of Christ, delights in all of the creation of God the Father. Wisdom is the workman through whom God accomplishes His creative work. Therefore, when teaching subjects like humanities, arts and fine arts, science and technology, the Christian teacher displays a passion for the subject that helps the students to love the subject for the rest of their lives!
Christian students, on the other hand, should never call their subjects ‘boring’ because these subjects are part of God’s creation – their teachers may be boring but that is the problem of the teacher, not the student!!
.. Christian disciple-making does follow on the same lines indicated above but with certain important additional elements. Discipling is not just transfer of information but the transference of character – and thus the close proximity of the discipler to the disciple is essential. Jesus chose the Twelve that they would be with Him – Mark 3:14. We have to go and make disciples, Matt.28:19. If disciple-making was simply a matter of information-transfer, we could have substituted go with transmit! In our days of Information Technology, it is good to remember that computers are good servants but bad masters, worse philosopher, worsestill theologians! Do not draw your theology from computer technology when it comes to discipling! Paul very often refers to himself as the frame
of reference when it comes to disciple-making: please refer Acts 20:18,34,35; 1 Cor.11:1; 1 Thess.1:5; 2 Tim.3:14.
.. Paul did not keep any trade secrets but passed them on what he himself had received from the Lord – 1 Cor.11:23; 15:3. To the Ephesian elders he could say that he had taught them the whole will of God – Acts 20:20,27. We see Paul’s sense of accountability to his disciples – Acts 20:26,33. His perseverance is evident from Acts 20:31.
In my own life, I have a deep sense of the fact that I am only a ‘work-in-progress’; but I have been nourished by the friendship and fellowship of many believers, young and old, and I have been blessed by the investment that I have made in the lives of people and deeply grateful to God for those who invested in me.
The author has served in the Telecom Dept for close to 3 decades and with RZIM for 2 decades. He is a vice president of UESI based in Pune.