Who is your role model as a teacher? Is it someone who is currently mentoring you? Do you come from a family of teachers? Is it a teacher you once had? Someone you have read about from history? Let me tell you about one of my favorite role models. This person is a character from the Bible and is actually called a teacher in the biblical text. His name was Ezra.
What makes Ezra a role model for Bible teachers? The answer lies in a marvelous verse found in Ezra 7:10. This is a verse every teacher should consider memorizing. The first phrase is, “For Ezra had devoted himself . . . “ Then the verse lists three things Ezra was devoted to:
1. Ezra studied the Word for himself. Ezra 7:10 says Ezra devoted himself to the “study . . . .of the law of the Lord. We never stop learning. As we teach, we need to keep studying the Word for ourselves. I try to start preparations of my lessons early in the week. The first thing I do is to study the passage for myself, to make it part of my personal devotion time. This way, I have all week to mull over the principles I find in the Scripture and to allow God’s Holy Spirit to teach me what those words mean.
Ezra was such a great student of the Bible that he was known for his study. Earlier in the chapter, the text reads, “He was a teacher well versed in the law of Moses (Ezra 7:6). Wouldn’t that be a wonderful reputation to have, that people know you as a Bible expert?
2. Ezra obeyed the Word. Knowing the content of God’s Word was not enough. Ezra devoted himself to the observance of the Law as well. We would be hypocrites if we teach others how to follow God’s way then fail to observe God’s law ourselves. It sounds so obvious, but sadly enough, too many children’s ministry workers do not make Christ a priority in their personal lives. How can you personally follow Christ more closely this week?
Ezra was not a teacher who was new to the faith, high on enthusiasm and low on long term commitment. His commitment to God and His law came from a solid foundation of teaching that spanned many generations. Ezra was a from a long line of the high priests of Israel, reaching back to the first high priest, Aaron, the brother of Moses. In his lineage are included such courageous ancestors as Hilkiah, the priest who help King Josiah repair the Temple and read the discovered book of the law to the people, and Zadok, who ensured that Solomon was established as King as God had chosen.
3. Ezra devoted himself to his teaching. How devoted are you to your teaching? How prepared are you before each teaching session? If you are going to be a model teacher like Ezra, no procrastination! No Saturday night crash preparation sessions! No bare minimums! If you are going to be devoted to your teaching, you may have to give up other church activities. You may need to sacrifice your desire to be in a class of your own. You may need to face the misunderstanding of other people who criticize you for not serving on other committees or joining the choir. You may need to allow yourself to get close enough to your kids for your heart to break as you see their hurts up close and personal. Yet when you fully devote yourself to your teaching, you feel the joy of knowing there’s no other place you would rather be than Inside the Classroom.
When you fully devote yourself to the study and observance of God’s word and the teaching of His decrees, you will also garner the label of Teacher, like Ezra.