The Teaching Style Makes all the Difference – Part I

“When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.”

Mark 6:34 (The Message)


Do you have a favorite teacher from your childhood?  What characteristics and personality type did that teacher possess? While I think our answers will vary as much as own unique personalities do, I believe we will all share a common denominator regarding one particular preference among our favorite teachers – the motivation behind their requests.

Relationship. The teachers who most positively impacted me (and our children) are the ones who desired to build a relationship with me (or our children) before even beginning to teach any formal lesson. When one invests in the lives of others, trust and loyalty are built. Then, when it is necessary to honor the one in authority (the teacher) with obedience, it is gladly given because there is already an established positive relationship as the foundation. In fact, for me, I find that when there is a positive relationship firmly established, I actually want to work harder to please that person.

When a relationship is already established before the homework assignments, tests and other “hard” aspects of learning occur, it somehow makes the work seem not so difficult. My children don’t see the assignments given by their favorite teachers as a way to punish, but instead the tests and assignments are embraced more as an adventure or a necessary part of the journey.

The same can be said of our Heavenly Father. Twelve years ago I had a conversation with God about the fact I didn’t really trust Him … but I wanted to. That was a scary prayer because at that time in my life, God was still the imposing Judge I had falsely accused Him to be, not the favorite teacher He would soon become. However, in His loving kindness, He took that one sentence I bravely uttered and began the journey of deepening our relationship, all while gently teaching me to trust. He never forced Himself on me – He gently invited multiple times until I chose to step forward and tentatively trust, one choice at a time.

Looking back over my trust journey, my perception of God was so false. While God ultimately is the Great Judge when we stand before Him after we die, He wants desperately to enter into a loving relationship with us while we’re alive here on earth.  Not just so that we can share eternity together in Heaven, but because there is so much more to this life He first wants to share with us.

Like any loving teacher or parent, He knows that in order to understand and appreciate the blessings as well as step into the calling He has for our lives, we must first complete a series of tests and learn lessons to prepare us for that purpose.  When I look back on the previous 12 years, but especially the past five, there are some major truths God taught me during my journey.

Come back next time and I will share those with you.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018


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