Today I thought it might be good to have a quick conversation about the qualities of a disciple-making teacher. I’m drawing these from Robby Gallaty’s book Growing Up: How to be a Disciple who Makes Disciples. Dr. Gallaty makes some great points about the characteristics of disciple-making teachers. I’ve used this list to evaluate myself and my teaching ministry. I hope you find it helpful, too, as you think about whether or not you are teaching, or teaching to make disciples. There’s a difference.
- A teacher shares information, while a discipler shares life. What happens outside the classroom is just as important, or maybe more important, than what happens inside the classroom. A disciple-making teacher knows the people he leads, where they live, where they work, and he enjoys spending his free time getting to know them more deeply.
- A teacher aims for the head, while a discipler aims for the heart. A teacher typically loves to be thought of as the expert in the room, the one who knows things and has important ideas and content to give to the group. A disciple-making teacher, however, aims about 10 inches lower and shoots for the heart. His goal is to be used to help bring about spiritual transformation; at the heart of transformation is a change in not just knowledge, but in attitude and action.
- A teacher measures knowledge, while a discipler measures faith. A teacher might focus on how much he or she knows, and how much of that is transferred into the minds of group members. On the other hand, a disciple-making teacher measures success by the increasing levels of faith that his or her group members demonstrate. Obedience to Christ becomes the measuring stick.
- A teacher is an authority, a discipler is a servant. I actually knew a teacher who did not allow the people in his group to speak during one of his Sunday morning lectures. He had a lot of ground to cover, and questions and dialogue just slowed him down. After all, he’d studied all week and knew lots of interesting facts to share about the Bible. A disciple-making teacher views themselves very differently. That kind of teacher sees himself as a servant, the one who is last in line, the one who seeks to meet the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of his group members. The disciple-making teacher exists for the group, not vice-versa.
- A teacher says, “Listen to me” while a discipler says, “Follow me.” Some teachers love to hear themselves talk, but a disciple-making teacher says, “Do as I do, as I attempt to follow Christ.”
The five characteristics are mentioned on p.37 of Gallaty’s book. Tthe thoughts about what each of those mean are mine from time spent in education ministry plus time in the classroom as a Sunday school teacher for the past 3 years. Hopefully these 5 characteristics will have you asking yourself, “Am I a disciple-making teacher?”
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