Sharpening the Saw: Ten Questions to Ask as a Christian Teacher

St. Louis Lutheran Elementary School Association

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Collinsville, IL


Presented by Reed Lessing

Assistant Professor of Exegetical Theology, Concordia Seminary

(Click here for audio of this presentation.)


"The Father who sent me commanded me what to say AND how to say it." John 12:49

When God became a Man he chose to be a Teacher

(Note Matt. 4.23; 7.29; 9.35; 28.19-20; John 1.38; 20.16)

#1 – Who am I teaching?

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."   1 Corinthians 9.22-23

Paul’s models in Acts 13, 14 and 17

"Jesus knew their thoughts . . ." Luke 11.17

#2 – What does the Bible say about their needs?

Jesus always spoke to people’s needs, hurts, or interests:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor." Luke 4.18-19

We don’t have to make the Bible relevant. It is! But we do have to demonstrate its relevance by applying it to today’s needs.

#3 – What is the most practical way to teach it?

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1.22

How To Make Your Teaching More Practical

1.  Always aim for an action
     - Exhortation without application leads to frustration

2.  Tell them why

3.  Show them how
     - We need less ought to teaching and more how to teaching

#4 – What is the most positive way to teach it?

"The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction." Proverbs 16.21

The more abrasive, the less persuasive! Negative teachers fill a school with negative students.

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4.5-6

#5 – What is the most encouraging way to teach it?

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." Proverbs 12.25

"Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of Scriptures, we might have hope." Romans 15.4

Hebrews is called a "word of encouragement" (13:22)

The Key to Encouraging Personal Change: Don’t tell it like it is. Tell it how it will be.

The Average Child

I don’t cause teachers trouble; my grades have been okay,
I keep up my chores as home; I’m in school every day.
My teachers think I’m average; my parents think so too.
I wish I didn’t know that; ‘cause there’s lots of things I’d like to do.
I’d like to build a rocket ship; I’ve got a book that shows you how.
Or, I’d like to start a stamp collection; well . . . no use trying now.
‘Cause since I know I’m average, I’m just smart enough, you see
To know there’s nothing special that I would ever expect of me.
I’m just part of that majority, that bump part of the bell
Who live their lives unnoticed in an average kind of hell.

#6 – What is the simplest way to teach it?

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God." 1 Corinthians 2.1

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power." 1 Corinthians 2.4

Jesus taught profound truths in simple ways. "The large crowd listened to him with delight." Mark 12.37

"You don’t really understand something unless you can explain it in a simple way." Albert Einstein

"I fear . . . (Satan) will corrupt you form the simplicity that is in Christ." II Corinthians 11.3

#6 – The simplest way: Continued




CONTENT                                                                                          COMMUNICATION

1. See Jonah running                                                                       1. You can run but you can’t hide?

2. See Jonah repenting                                                                    2. When you hit bottom look up

3. See Jonah returning                                                                      3. God loves to give a second chance

4. See Jonah ranting & raving saved                                                 4. God loves everyone and wants them

#7 – What is the most personal way to teach it?

"We have spoken frankly to you, we have opened wide our hearts." II Corinthians 6.11

"We were delighted to share with you, not only the gospel of God but our own lives as well." I Thessalonians 2.8

Dr. Flavit Yeakley’s Ph.D. Dissertation: Three Types of Communicators

#1 "Manipulative Monologue" (salesman teacher) hard sell, heavy persuasion and pressure.

#2 "Information Transmission" (information teacher) emphasize Bible knowledge and information understanding certain facts/doctrines.

#3 "Non-Manipulative Dialogue" (friend/relational teacher).

#7 – The personal way: Continued

Yeakley then studied over 1,000 churches: Some of the results are as follows:

Regarding evangelism

In High Growth Churches all pastors were #3
In Medium Growth Churches 94% pastors were #1
In Low Growth Churches 87% pastors were #2

#7 – The personal way: Continued

1.  Honestly share your weaknesses
"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life." II Corinthians 1.8

2.  Honestly share where you are at as a Christian
". . . with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction, you know how we lived among you for your sake." I Thessalonians 1.5b

3.  Share how you are growing
". . . because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power." I Thessalonians 1.5a

#8 – What is the most interesting way to teach it?

"When wise people speak, they make knowledge attractive." Proverbs 15.2


"Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world." Matthew 13.34-35

The benefits of humor

#9 – What is the most loving way to teach it?

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13.l

#1 Factor in teaching is likeability

#10 – Just why do I teach?

"After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals." Judges 2.10-11


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