Many of the teachers I have had throughout my life often said that the best way to know you’ve mastered a subject or concept is your ability to teach someone else. Another thing I also heard from many of my teachers is that when you start teaching others, you often times turn into the student, learning something from people you never thought could teach you anything and learning in ways you never thought you would.
In my twenty years of existence, I’ve had some stellar teachers from school, Bible school, in my family and among my friend groups. All in all, these teachers have taught me to love the Word and to love words (which is saying something coming from an introvert). I could list these teachers and the many things they have taught me but to do so would take too long. Instead, I will just say that all the amazing men and women who have taken the time to teach me have affected my life more than I ever thought they would.
There have been many points in my life where I have seriously considered and toyed with the idea of being a teacher because of the extraordinary people who taught me. Starting in 8th grade, I told my academic counselor that I wanted to be an English teacher. Within a year I thought about being a journalist and then as I progressed in high school I wanted to do PR, but the idea of being a teacher never completely went away. I remember in my freshman year of college I seriously debated getting a degree in both public relations and English because I thought one day I would want to teach, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it right out of college. And now I’ve started to seriously consider getting a master’s and the thought of getting a master’s in English education has crossed my mind a time or two, but so has a master’s in strategic communications or mass communications management.
Though the plans of the eighth grade version of me have faded in and out of my mind year after year, my love for words has not. My mom likes to say that she never could get a football out of my brother’s hands and books out of mine (and that’s probably partly her fault). When I was first learning to read, I remember we would read about the hilarious adventures of Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park. It was a night-time ritual of ours because she thought I wasn’t reading at the level I should be. From that point in my life I became the kid who would take a book to recess or work on stories I was writing…I guess that was the hazard in helping me read so what I’m trying to say is that this is all your fault, mom! But I wouldn’t have it any other way because as I went through middle school and high school my love for words continued to grow. From seventh grade to my senior year of high school, the line up of English teachers I had is the academic equivalent of the 1992 U.S.A. Olympic basketball dream team. I’ll let them fight over who would be Michael Jordan in this scenario.
At a whole other level is a place special made for the teachers who taught me about the Bible. Regardless of the career I have, these are the teachers I want to imitate. Regardless of the career I have, this is one subject I hope I will always teach. Whether it be in an actual Bible class or in the way I live me life, I aim to be a source of God’s Word even to those who don’t believe.
Last week, I had the opportunity to both imitate and teach the Word at a church camp in south central Oklahoma. For a whole week, I was a counselor to fifth and sixth grade girls and these girls changed my life. People tell me I’m brave, but bravery as nothing to do with it. It takes a bit of patience and a lot of love and with that you can teach anyone. During a week where it rained non-stop for three days straight, it took more patience, or “bravery” if you prefer, to teach by example than to teach these young, squirmy and loveable girls in the two Bible classes I taught. It rained so much, I thought I would never be dry again, but the positive attitudes from both the campers and the counselors left me with lessons learned from young ten and eleven year old girls who I thought wouldn’t and couldn’t teach me all that they did.
If the question is to teach or not to teach, then the answer for me will always be to teach regardless of my career path.