I looked back over my 20's and saw that there was a fundamental flaw in the way I tried to teach people. Whether it was my own children, members of bible studies I taught, or students and singles in the ministries where I was on staff, I found it easy to give a command and tell people what they should do. I also found it easy to be frustrated at them for not meeting my expectations. It's harder to teach people how to carry out that command, but the process and results are way more peaceful.
For example, it's easy to yell at my kid, "Don't slam the door!" That command only leaves us both frustrated. If I want change and a calmer house, I need to get off my bumpkin and show my kid how to turn a door knob and close the door gently.
When I was on church staff, I came in eager to encourage young men and women to live missional lives. Then it dawned on me that I didn't even know if half of them were saved. I had to stop saying "Be missional!", take a step back, and teach the Gospel first. Once people understand the Gospel at work in their own lives, it becomes very easy to teach them how to live a missional life. Once students learn the how, I rarely have to preach "Be Missional".
Today, I spent some time exercising with my kids. To give my kids ownership, I told them we would have "P.E." class and each of them had to lead the rest of us in some type of stretch or exercise. My youngest kid screamed, "I WANNA DO JUMPING JACKS." This is what happened:
Cute. I laughed because those are not jumping jacks. I can't just assume that because I know how to do a jumping jack, can model jumping jacks, and tell my kids to do jumping jacks that they will be able to correctly perform a jumping jack. My oldest kid came to the rescue. "Okay everybody, put your body like an 'X'. Now a pencil. X. Pencil." And then......
Notice what the little one said: "I know how to do a jumping jack." She 's seen them done before and she thinks she knows how to pull them off, but she doesn't. It's still cute. If I want my kid to just entertain people for a few years, I will keep videoing her. But if I want her to be an adult that doesn't make a fool of herself, I'm going to lovingly teach her some skill.
When it comes to the Bible, I can't forget the basics. Most people don't know how to read the Bible and understand it the way God intended. We (the Church) may teach, preach, and model well, but have created young people who are full of energy, passion, and capability, but no skill when it comes to navigating the Old and New Testament. Christians think they know how to read it because they can name the 66 books in order, but until God or someone shows them the simple "how-to's", they will not handle the Word correctly. If we encourage others to read the Bible through in a year, we need to be able to help them navigate the freaky parts. I need to explain that men of faith having a bunch of wives is not the model of godly marriage(s) or why Hosea 1:2 should not be men's life-verse "Go get yourself a wife of harlotry."
My new goal as I teach my kids or bible study group is to teach them how to "X....pencil" their way through the Bible before I challenge them to exercise their faith.