Real teaching — not just telling

Pull the fat end down so that it is twice as long as the skinny end.

Cross the fat end over the skinny end and bring it behind, up,

and through and down the loop at the top, around the back of the

of the opposite side, up through the loop and down, bringing it across

the front of the lower part of the loop around behind, up, through, and

down the front behind the horizontal loop in front.

Leroy Eims

On several occasions I recall Leroy commencing his talk with the above statement.  He would then ask if everyone understood what he said, repeat it, and again ask if anyone would be able to do what he had told them to do. (In case you don’t recognize it, these are the instructions for tying a Windsor knot in a necktie!)  Everyone, myself included, had no clue where to begin.  His point was obvious.  We need not only to tell people what to do, but we need to show them how to do it.  A friend of mine with whom I meet regularly was describing a man he knew who grew up having a poor relationship with his father.  His statement was, “He told me what to do, but he never taught me.”

In the spiritual life it is all too easy to simply tell someone what to do, not realizing that they have no clue how to do it.  One man with whom I started meeting a few weeks ago is a new believer.  He was told to read the Gospel of John, but had no clue how to read the Bible.  He had floundered through the first few chapters with no concept of how to approach the Bible when you read.  No one had mentioned to him the benefit of asking questions such as, “What does this say about God?”, “About myself?”, “About our relationship?”, What are His desires for me?”, or “What are His promises?”  No one had suggested approaching the Bible using the words of Paul in Acts, “Who are you, Lord”, “What do you want me to do?”  There are, of course, many ways to approach reading the Bible, but he had been shown none of them.  Next week we are starting with John chapter one and reading it together.

Another young man with whom I meet had never had an opportunity to learn how to study the Bible on his own.  The simple introduction of approaching the scriptures from the viewpoint of observation (what does it say), interpretation (what does it mean), and application (what does it mean to me) was greatly encouraging to him in his understanding and application of the scriptures to his life.

In his book, Every Man a Warrior, Lonnie Berger relates the reasons that people don’t have quiet times.  The first reason he lists is that “No one ever taught them how to have a quiet time.”  It is a skill that needs to be developed .  Others need to be shown how to have a quiet time.  It requires personal individual attention and accountability.

Perhaps no other area suffers from the lack of instruction as much as that of evangelism.  We are often challenged from the pulpit to be involved with others, but there is seldom any personal demonstration of what this should look like.  It took me some time to realize this personally in my own life.  Having seen the necessity of this demonstration, my wife and I began to be involved with other couples in the area of evangelism.  We began to pray with them for their friends, help them to invite others into their homes and showed them how to open the scriptures to others in a non-threatening environment.  We had learned to teach, not simply tell.

As individuals disciple others, time is spent together in prayer, in the word, and sharing with one another what is happening in their lives.  The Holy Spirit continues to use this example, equipping them to do the same in the lives of others.  They are not simply told to disciple others.  They are doing for others what has been done for them.

Most of us are familiar with the term “show and tell” from its use in Grade School.  The students bring an item of interest to the class and not only “tell” others about the item, but they “show” how it works.  We in our lives need not only to “tell”, but to “show.”

Our lives must be a model of what we want to teach.  We must live up front and personal with those to whom we are “showing” spiritual truths and skills.  The Apostle Paul was a model of how to “show and tell.”  He states in Philippians 4:9 the following, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”  It is my prayer that our lives would model what we teach in such a way that others may “put it into practice” as well.

In Christ, Richard Spann

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