Teaching Others to Gain Understanding
Annie Murphy Paul recently said, “For thousands of years, people have known that the best way to understand a concept is to explain it to someone else. “While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca. Now scientists are bringing this ancient wisdom up to date, documenting exactly why teaching is such a fruitful way to learn — and designing innovative ways for young people to engage in instruction.”
This is most amazing when we consider that “The Teacher” (the Lord Jesus Christ) knew and practiced such almost 2,000 years ago. He not only taught His disciples, but told them to go and “teach all people.” The Apostle Paul told Titus to teach others so they could teach. The Gospel writer Luke is an excellent example of a person who was taught (in his case, by Paul) and then proceeded to teach others. Luke wrote the Gospel that bears his name and the Book of Acts for the purpose of sharing information, instruction, illumination and inspiration. In other words, he wrote to teach others.
Consider Luke’s opening words to his Gospel: “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4).
Luke wanted Theophillus to have clear and certain knowledge, as well as the confidence in what he had been taught, so Luke set down an “orderly account.” In other words, Luke sought to explain the complex spiritual truths found in the Gospel in simple, straightforward, and understandable terms. The writings of Luke show that they see their readers and listeners as students. Students are best taught in a “circle concept.” A “circle concept” introduces information, gives instruction on how to use it, gives opportunity to apply it and “circles back” for the information that is needed to take the next step. In his gospel Luke “circles back” again and again to show us that Jesus Christ is the Son of Man.
The Book of Acts is written in the same way. Very early on Luke presents his “outline” for the book: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The rest of the book is well-organized and possesses an orderly development of the outline described in Acts 1:8. Luke uses chapters 1-7 to teach about the Church in Jerusalem. In chapters 8- 12, Luke specifically describes the Church expanding into Judea and Samaria. And finally, in chapters 13-28, Luke tells the story of the Church expanding to the ends of the earth by describing the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul and his ministry team.
This type of effective teaching gives specific and ongoing communication from the teacher and to the student. The student must be instructed, informed, inspired and receptive to what the teacher intended him to hear. The Gift of Teaching Others (i.e., communication for the purpose of understanding) is only complete when the student understands the material as the teacher intended him to understand it.
Every reader who reads my new book, The Altar of His Presence, will recognize that I wrote this new devotional to teach others how to experience the glory of God in intimate and dynamic ways. I hope that my readers understand that I am trying to inspire them to search for the truth. This is because I have a passion to discover the truth and validate the accuracy of the information I have received through my study of the Scripture and other writers. It is important to me that I bring the opportunity for great blessing or change to the life of another.
I believe that teachers (who are called, gifted and chosen to teach) are more than willing to invest their time in their study of the words, context, and author of a particular passage of the Bible. Their teaching ministry grows when they learn to meditate on the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to teach them the depths of the message. The change this brings to the teacher’s life is soon transmitted to the lives of the people they teach.
Wherever you are in life I encourage you to teach that which you are learning. Why? Because we learn best when we are teaching others. When we focus on adding value to another person, value is then added and sometimes multiplied back to our own lives. Read today. Share what you read. Learn today. Share what you are learning. Give. It will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over (Luke 6:38).