At work, a colleague taught me 3 steps to preparing someone else to teach a course (after you have been teaching it yourself for a long time, and it’s time to pass on the baton). If I’m the existing teacher and you are the new teacher, it goes something like this:
- First, you watch me train students, and learn the material.
- Next, I watch you train others, and provide support for you if you have questions, while offering suggestions where appropriate.
- Finally, you teach on your own, without me.
(At this point, you may be promoted or transferred, so that the teaching job falls back to me, but that’s how it goes, sometimes.)
This process makes sense, and has the potential to work pretty well if you find a good replacement. Whether or not this structured process can be followed, though, I think that there’s a point where both past and future instructors may wonder if the next session will go well. The original instructor may wonder if the new teacher will do a good enough job, while the new teacher may feel uncomfortable working without a “safety net”.
Whether they feel ready or not, Jesus – the perfect Teacher – delegated the distribution of the Good News to His followers (both those who walked with Him in person, and those who believed in Him afterwards).
The good news, though, is that Jesus never leaves us on our own. We are never left in the third step (as described above), without Someone in the room who knows the right thing to say.
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 NLT
Whether through the presence of Jesus, or the Holy Spirit (the Comforter and Advocate that was sent – see John 14:26), God is always there to back us up, answer questions, and offer us suggestions.
And, given our fallible nature, having an expert to fall back upon is a pretty good idea. We should never think too highly of ourselves, and imagine that we don’t need God’s help to succeed. If the apostle Paul was still working to improve (as described in the passage below), I suspect that the rest of us shouldn’t think that we have mastered the Christian walk, and no longer need to learn or grow:
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Philippians 3:12-14 NLT
Whether we are teaching others, or living like Jesus, we should always be humble enough to listen for God’s direction, ask for His help, and seek His guidance.
So, be bold as you teach others about Jesus, whether through formal instructions, normal conversation about your walk with Him, or in leading by example. But, don’t feel like you’re out on your own – the ultimate Teacher is nearby to help.