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Thank You for Teaching Me!
James Tollett – August 9, 2013

In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul wrote: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”  I have spent the majority of my life as a “Pastor-Teacher.”

As a pastor, there have been times when I left a church to follow the Lord in the next assignment.  Six years ago, I left ORU to follow the Lord, once again, in the next assignment.  When people transition from one position to another, it is amazing the accolades they receive.  Often these praises take the form of such statements as “Thank you pastor,” or “You were my favorite teacher,” etc.

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped my car at a traffic light.  In front of me was an older car that had been well-maintained.  On the right side of the back bumper, I saw this bumper sticker: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”  Although I understand the truth of that statement, there is much more that needs to be said.  Let me explain.

In over forty years of preaching, I have learned much from those to whom I spoke.  In all of the churches that I have pastored, I have walked away with wisdom that I collected from those to whom I ministered.  In thirty-plus years of teaching, I never taught a class in which my students did not also teach me something.  Today, I want to say to those I have preached to and to those I have taught: “THANK YOU FOR TEACHING ME!”

Your teaching me may not have been with words, but it could have been.  Most of the time it was from observing your actions—the way you carried yourself in life.  Sometimes it was something you shared with me—that you discovered while doing an assignment for my class, or an idea you got while I was preaching/teaching.  You eagerly shared your discovery, and it taught me something.  Your sharing blessed me.  Again, “THANK YOU FOR TEACHING ME!”

As we approach the 100th issue of the Believer’s Tip of the Week, many of you have written and said “thank you” for this weekly email.  To you I would say, “You are welcome!”  But I also want to “THANK YOU FOR TEACHING ME!”  You see, those of you who have responded to the Believer’s Tip of the Week with suggestions and questions have taught me a great deal.

The bumper sticker was correct: we should thank the various teachers who taught us to read, write, do math, draw, appreciate music, etc.  But those who teach or preach should also thank those whom they taught.  This goes beyond formal preaching and education; you see, each day, each and every one of us teaches something to those around us.  It may be something good, or it could be something bad.  So we need to watch what we teach; but we must also be open to learn from those whom God has put around us.

Take time today to step back from your role as a leader, a parent, a teacher, or preacher, and learn from those around you; for God has placed around us “living epistles” that can speak into our lives.

Until next week, I am James Tollett, your missionary to America.

ANNOUNCEMENT: You still have time to share about what the Believer’s Tip of the Week has meant to you.  Your input could end up in our 100th installment.  Send your comments to james@jtmin.org.  In the subject line type Believer’s Tip of the Week.