One funny memory I have is teaching my daughter how to drive a manual transmission car. It was her first car and I got into the passenger seat to begin the training. As I start to instruct she informed me “I know what to do dad, I watched a video!” So I let her do it her own way. In my daughters mind it did not matter how many years I’ve driven because an online tutorial seemed more authoritative. After multiple attempts and still in the driveway she asked me what she was doing wrong. My facetious response was “I don’t know. What did the video say to do?” That did not help matters by the way. At that point my daughter was willing to take instruction and in short order was able to drive her car.
Some things cannot be properly taught watching videos but need to be experienced with proper instruction. Throughout all of man’s history every trade and skill was taught through a form of apprenticeship. Traditionally this has been one person teaching one or a few others at a time. The teacher would generally be a master of the craft being taught. All that changed with the “need” for more production and faster training. As a result we no longer embrace the idea of being mentored. You hardly ever hear the term apprentice anymore and when it is spoken it is usually in a negative connotation, at least in the trades it is.
An accepted mindset is that to be able to instruct requires a college education and without it a person is an inferior leader. As an example, I recently received a rejection letter from a small church that is seeking a Pastor. In this letter it was stated that as a candidate I do not have enough education in an accredited Bible college. It is clearly understood that some church congregations, due to their size, need a Pastor who is well-educated to handle the various aspects of church organization. While there is value in any college education, this illustrates a common myth today about being qualified to preach and teach.
For over twenty-five years I have served in church congregations as a teacher and sometimes a preacher. Teaching is a part of my life, at work, in public, and in private. In addition to that I have completed a three-year track in a ministry school. The perception is that a four-year degree from a college is superior to a life devoted to study and teaching the Bible. There is no biblical support for this idea just an accepted view. I am resolved to preach the word of God with or without a congregation to shepherd and certainly without man’s judgment about my qualifications!
Timothy was qualified as a church leader based on a life of faithfulness, not an educational accomplishment. To start with Timothy grew up under faithful examples. 2 Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded, now lives in you also. It was clear that Timothy was a man of strong faith. His knowledge of scripture and qualifications as a church leader began from allowing others to speak into his life.
Look at Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
The call Timothy had on his life was bigger than any university could prepare him for. Timothy had faithful people speaking into his life. It is difficult to change a widely accepted mindset. The perception that the best leaders are those who have written the most books or have the biggest following can mask the fact that people are readily accepting of anyone that does not challenge their beliefs. To be mature believers we must take an honest look at our lives and behavior. To grow in faith a person must be willing to accept correction. To only accept teaching that satisfies personal desire is to not accept the entire gospel message.
Be teachable and be open to teaching others. We need mature Christians to step up as disciple makers as well as new or young Christians to accept instruction. As a body of believers this needs to be a priority. As with any cultural mindset it will require determined people who do not waver in their beliefs to see change occur.