Every teacher, or aspiring teacher, has their own motivation for choosing teaching as a career. For some, the pursuit of riches and fame lures them into the enchanted forest of the academy. Unfortunately, such a life, or so I’m told, shares a den with the unicorn and other elusive creatures. The labor and discipline of teaching soon delivers a swift wake-up call to an otherwise blissful fantasy. For others, fascination with a particular field drives a sustained interest to spread abroad one’s passion, in hopes that the world will be a better place for it. For, as any specialists knows, your field is the most important for the advancement of human civilization (akin to a parent who thinks their child is the “most special,” when in fact they are ordinary at best).
Though I would scarcely turn down fortune (fame I could do without), and do have a genuine passion for biblical studies, a prominent motivation for my desire to teach is altogether different. In short, I want to teach because I am by nature lazy. Let me explain.
I once had a conversation with my college pastor about his motivation for entering the ministry. I was not expecting the response he provided. Among other things, he said, “If I didn’t have to preach every week, I wouldn’t spend as much time in the text as I do.” This statement brought a startling degree of clarity.
You see, I am one of those students of biblical literature who believe that they actually have something to say about who God is, the fallen condition of man, and the person and work of Jesus Christ. Yet far too often, to my shame, I do not devote the time and energy to study the text that I ought. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
On the other hand, I take the tasking of teaching very seriously. The warning of James 3:1 practically has been seared onto my retinae. I’ve found that when I am expected to open the Scriptures before others, I discipline myself to study all the more. As a Christian, my desire is to better know God and understand the Bible; what it meant, how we got it, and what it means for the Church today. In my own experience, preparing to teach helps get me there. And while this is not my only motivation for wanting to teach, it has been a means of grace to grow in disciplining myself for the sake of godliness.