In my last post, I spoke of the privilege I’ve had to teach my daughter how to teach. Teaching doesn’t always occur in the classroom. Nor does it happen in the framework of a structured prepared lesson. Sometimes the best moments of teaching happen sitting cross-legged on Mom’s bed, working together in the garden, or riding for miles in the car.
One of my greatest teachers is my Aunt Katherine. Over the years, Aunt Katherine has taught me invaluable lessons. Some of those lessons have come through wonderful talks doing the everyday stuff of life. I remember fondly the times I spent at her trailer in Southern Arizona, the hikes we took through the mountains or the year she lived with my family. She’s the one who broadened my horizons about missions and evangelism, who taught me about life in the church, the confidence we can have in the Bible as God’s infallible word. She has helped me sift through misleading doctrines and understand what the Bible really means about key issues of our faith.
I also learned a lot from Aunt Katherine through watching her example, I learned to accept people as they are and to treat people equally. I learned how to show compassion as I saw her reach out to broken hearted woman who had taken one too many blows from the world.
Finally I’ve learned through working and playing together. Aunt Katherine’s natural enthusiasm invites people to share the journey with her. I’ve gone with her to missionary conventions, different churches and women’s retreats. She’s one who’s willing to roll up her sleeves and get a job done. She has a “can-do” spirit that melts away obstacles and tensions from other workers. I fondly remember how she came to visit my husband and I after our new home suffered damage from a hurricane force wind. She surveyed the damage and said, “I think we can take care of this” and off she and my husband went to Lowe’s to buy the necessary lumber. When she would join my childhood family for family games, I learned how to handle the difficult attitudes of other players.
I’m forty six years old and Aunt Katherine is still teaching me. In March of next year, I’m going with her on my first overseas missions trip. We’ll spend two weeks in Austria at a bible leadership training college. Our job will be to cook and serve meals to pastors and lay leaders who come for bible college level teaching. These pastors come from a number of the surrounding Slavic countries. What a joy it will be for them to devote themselves to their studies, not having to worry about the preparation of their own meals or the daily care of their rooms. A team of people from the United States will serve like a hotel staff to take care of those needs for them.
This is no glamour trip. There won’t be time to sightsee all the wonderful sights of Austria and surrounding charms of Europe. We’re going there to serve, to do the work of servants. Once more, Aunt Katherine will teach me and lead me in something she’s already participated in. She’ll teach me how to have the heart of a servant and how to emotionally and spiritually prepare for such a trip. I can hardly wait!
Jesus told the twelve apostles to “Go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).” The Greek word for “Go” is not an imperative in that sentence; it should be translated, “As you go.” As Aunt Katherine has traveled the journey of her life, she has been making disciples – me – and so many others. That’s truly the essence of teaching.