teaching


Justin Beadles with some helpful thoughts on why it’s better to internalize rather than memorize your message (sermon, speech, etc.):

Unless you are a student competing in a division that requires such, there is no need to memorize your speech. You simply need to internalize it. This means you think through the flow and main idea enough that it becomes natural to recall. Memorizing and manuscripting are both unnecessary in my book. They take a colossal amount of time and, with rare exception, come off stilted and unfeeling.

Here is a tactic from the ancients that might help you internalize your next speech:

I think through all my speeches in terms of taking people on a tour of my house.

1. The Front Door: This is my introduction
2. The Living Room: My first point
3. The Dining Room: My second point
4. The Play Room: My conclusion

At any time I need only remember what room I am in and am then able to recall easily where the speech is headed. Try it and see.

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Are you looking for tips to become a better teacher?  Whether you teach in a church or school (or even at home), the following is a collection of posts that I think will be helpful to you.  These teaching tips come from an online book discussion that I conducted last year over the book, Teaching to Change Lives, by Howard Hendricks.  I trust they will challenge you to become a better teacher and life-long learner.

Law of the Teacher 

Law of Education  

   

Law of Activity     

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Law of Communication 

 

 

Law of the Heart

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Law of the Encouragement

Law of Readiness

How do we raise our boys to be real men?  From what little I have read there seems to be a consensus among evangelicals that the idea of manhood has been all but lost in our society today.  It has no real meaning.  Consequently, we don’t know what it means to be a real man and sadly the church is not much different.  There is a lack of masculinity in our culture as men have become passive, irresponsible and downright wimpy.  So the problem is clear, but how do we fix it?  How do we raise our boys to be real men?

I’m concerned that in an effort to raise our boys to be real men, we have swung the pendulum too far and forgotten our goal is not for them to be like Superman, but to be like the Godman-our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Perhaps an illustration would help.

You see it quite often where a little boy scrapes up his knee and his daddy quickly tells him, “Get up, son.  You’re fine.  Rub some dirt on it.  Be a man!”  Now being brave and being strong isn’t wrong.  It’s a good thing.  We don’t want our boys to be sissies!  After all, Jesus was strong.  Mark Driscoll says it best:

Jesus was a dude.  Like my drywaller dad, he was a construction worker who swung a hammer for a living.  Because Jesus worked in a day when there were no power tools, he likely had calluses on his hands and muscles on his frame, and did not look like so many of the drag-queen Jesus images that portray him with long, flowing, feathered hair, perfect teeth, and soft skin (Vintage Jesus, 31)

Yes, Jesus was a real man.  He was a hard-working carpenter.  He offended lots of people.  He even made a whip of cords and drove out the money-changers in the temple.  Yes, Jesus was (and is) a real man.  But is this the full picture of Jesus?  And is this the full picture of what it means to be a man? 

As I took a cursory look at the Gospels, I saw a picture of Jesus that may not seem very “manly” in our culture today, but nevertheless must be taught and modeled to our boys if we want them to be real men–men like Jesus.

  • Jesus was humble and gentle (Mt. 11:29)
  • Jesus was compassionate (Mt. 9:36, 15:32)
  • Jesus was dependent on his Father (Mt. 24:42)
  • Jesus cried (John 11:35, Isa. 53:3)l)
  • Jesus was a servant (John 13, Phil. 2:7)
  • Jesus hugged children (Mt. 19:13-15)
  • Jesus loved his mother (John 19:26-27)
  • Jesus needed the fellowship of others (Mk. 14:32-33)

Jesus is the man we want our boys to be like.  So if Jesus is humble and gentle, than I want my son to be humble and gentle.  If Jesus is compassionate on others, even willing to cry for others, than I want my son to feel free to do the same.  And I want him to know that being a real man is not having to choose between being brave and strong and gentle and meek.  It’s both, because Jesus is both.  After all, he is the lion-like lamb and the lamb-like lion.  He is tough and tender.  And he is safe and strong. 

So, instead of being so concerned about whether my boy grows up to be brave and strong like Superman, I want my boy to be like Jesus.  He may not be your typical “man’s man” but hopefully he’ll be a real man.

Wolters-2How do you talk to your children about the gospel?  That’s the question I was asked just recently by a good friend of mine.  Let me begin by telling you I don’t consider myself to be an expert on the subject!  I have three children now, and with each child I am humbled, realizing that whenever I get it right it’s purely by the grace of God.  So rather than striving for greatness, I’ve learned over time the power of weakness in parenting.  Like Jehosophat in 2 Chronicles 20, I often cry out to God, “I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on You.”  This is the starting point as parents–humbly depending on God.

Having said that, my wife and I aren’t sitting back passively as parents hoping our children will come to Christ.  We want to do whatever we can in the strength of the Spirit to bring our children up in the Lord.  We want to be intentional and very practical in our parenting.  There are many books that have helped us in this pursuit, but ultimately the Bible is our foundation.  One verse that I keep running back to as a guide and a goal in parenting is 2 Timothy 3:14-15.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

From this passage I’ve learned that Christian parenting basically consists of two things: modeling and teaching the gospel.  These two things, when combined together, are a powerful means of making our children “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

So, what does that look like in the Wolter home?  Here’s some practical things we do–keeping in mind we fail often!  If you could watch us for a day or two, I am sure you would observe something close to Super Nanny on ABC.  But, by the grace of God, we keep growing as parents.

Modeling — What are your children observing?

  • Seeing God in everything — we try to see God throughout the day and point our kids to Him (e.g. as we take a walk, we remind our children of God’s beautiful creation; as we watch a TV show or movie we try to talk about how it either supports or goes against a biblical worldview of life)
  • Praying at all times — we try to stop and pray throughout the day, thanking God and acknowledging our need for God (i.e. trying not to make prayer just a dinner table experience!)
  • Not hiding our emotions — we try to be real with our kids and let them know when we are feeling happy or sad (if it’s appropriate) and then going to God together as a family in those times
  • Admitting our sins to them — many times I have messed up and needed to go and ask my girls to forgive me for my sin (this inevitably creates another opportunity for me to let them know how much “daddy” needs Jesus too)
  • Inviting others into our home — this has gotten somewhat more difficult with three kids, but Jaime and I want to model for our kids an atmosphere of love and openness to others

Teaching — What are your children learning?

  • To Begin the Day — I usually get up and get the girls breakfast (Jaime does so much, I try to serve her in this way — plus I’m a morning person and she’s not!).  During breakfast, I read from a couple different devotional materials (Big Book of Quesions and Answers by Sinclair Ferguson and A Faith to Grow On by John MacArthur) and we talk about them.  It only takes about 5 minutes, but it’s one way I start the day teaching them about the gospel.
  • Sometimes at Supper — Although we’re less consistent with this routine, we’ve found that it’s fun to pray for someone in our family by having each person take a picture off the fridge and pray for that person before we eat.  After we eat, sometimes I’ll pull out My First Book of Questions by Carine MacKenzie and “quiz” the girls for fun.
  • To End the Day — Nearly every night we try to read from The Jesus StoryBook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones and pray with our girls.  We like them to pray with us as I believe it’s good to have children learn to pray as they hear us pray.  We’re also teaching them the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Listening to Music as we drive — Jaime likes to put in CD’s for the girls to listen to.  Here’s one that our girls really like: Seeds of Faith
  • Reading Good Books Together — There are so many books I could mention here.  I’ll just mention two: Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers by Joey Allen, and The Priest With Dirty Clothes by R.C. Sproul.

These are some practical ideas we have tried to implement in modeling and teaching the gospel to our children.  But above all, Jaime and I try to pray for our children on a daily basis.  We know that God is the only one who can extend grace to our children to save them and sanctify them just as He has with us. 

How about you?  We would love to hear from you and learn from you as we “do life together” as weak parents.

John Milton Gregory once said, “The inattentive mind neither hears nor sees.”  If that’s true, than I’m afraid much of our teaching is neither seen or heard because our students aren’t motivated to learn.  They have inattentive minds, and often we are the ones to blame.  So how can we properly motivate those we teach?

This week we turn to Law #6, the Law of Encouragement.  As always, I’ll begin with a short summary followed by a list of questions for reflection.  And I encourage you (pun intended) to make a comment (if you’re still reading the book) as we approach the end of our online discussion over Teaching to Change Lives.   

  • Summary

The Law of Encouragement is this: Teaching tends to be most effective when the learner is properly motivatedHendricks highlights the word “properly” in this definition as he gives examples of improper motivation that can bring bad results such as making your kids memorize verses in order to get the lollipop.  What I’ve found is that proper motivation is almost always intrinsic or internal.  This kind of motivation goes for the heart of the learner instead of the “mouth” if you will.  So as teachers we must think creatively about finding ways to properly motivate our students.

Hendricks says that we must not only tell our students what we want them to learn, but show them and do it with them.  He makes reference to the fact that no one ever took a correspondence course in swimming.  If we want to learn to swim, we must get in the water and swim!  And likewise, as teachers, if we want to teach effectively, we must “get in the water” with our students if we expect to change their lives. 

[See my post – Swimming Lessons for Life]

Hendricks lists a few more helpful hints in terms of properly motivating our students:

  • We must give our students responsibility with accountability — the greater the investment, the greater the interest.
  • We must make our teaching personal — have the learner’s name written all over it.
  • We must be creative and encourage their creativity — don’t kill creativity, but guide it

He ends with this final question:  Are you motivated?  Because if you’re not motivated, how do you expect your students’ to be motivated?  Motivated people are the ones who are excited about what they are teaching and their students will be as well.  Passion breeds passion.  So, get excited about teaching–especially if you have the privilege of teaching God’s Word each week.

  • Questions for Reflection
  1. How do you know that your students are motivated or bored?
  2. How do you structure your lesson to bring proper motivation?
  3. Do you think proper motivation is necessary to learn?
  4. What can you do outside of class to motivate your students?
  5. How can you grow in your own motivation as a teacher?

heart1.jpgHoward Hendricks says, “Teaching that impacts is not head to head, but heart to heart … as long as you understand the biblical meaning of heart.” 

We often associate the heart with emotions such as love and kindness, but to the Ancient Hebrews the heart encompassed the entire inner being of a man, which included the mind with all its thoughts and emotions.

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As we look at the first picture in the Hebrew word for heart (above) we see a shepherd’s staff.  According to Jeff Benner, the staff was a symbol of authority as the shepherd has authority over his flock.  The second letter is a picture of the floor plan of a nomadic tent and Benner says that this picture represents the idea of being inside as the family resides within the tent.  So, when combined, these words mean “the authority within.”

Thus, heart-to-heart teaching is when Christ in us (our Shepherd and King) flows out of our entire being (mind, emotions, and will) into the lives of others.  Or as Hendricks puts it, “One’s total personality transformed by the supernatural grace of God reaching out to transform other personalities by the same grace.”  That’s the kind of teaching that impacts others.

  • Summary:

In his book, Teaching to Change Lives, Hendricks explains the “how-to’s” of heart-to-heart teaching in chapter five, The Law of the Heart.  He emphasizes that true teaching is causing others to change; thus, if we expect our students to change, we must model Christ to them in how we care about them. 

Heart-to-heart teaching comes out of the overflow of your own heart as you love the ones you teach.  Therefore, we must flow into our student’s lives in order to make a difference in their lives.  As Hendricks says, “You can impress people at a distance.  But you can impact them up close.”  And so we must relate to people on a deeper, heart-to-heart level as our lives give clarity to the teaching from our lips.

  • Questions to Consider: 
  1. In your own words, how would you describe “heart-to-heart” teaching?
  2. Normally, do you aim for the head, the heart, or the lives of your learners? 
  3. How do you include all three (in question #2) in your lesson planning?
  4. How can you have a greater impact on your students’ lives?
  5. Why is it crucial that we “know” our students?
  6. Are you pouring out your life as a teacher?
8027bookbig1.gifHave you ever wondered why some ideas survive while others die?  Have you ever thought about why some ideas seem to stick while others slip away?  Recently, I’ve been reading the book, Made to Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.  In it the authors teach six key qualities of an idea that is made to stick.  I’ve found them to be very helpful as a teacher and communicator.  Interestingly enough, many of these principles can be traced back to the Master Teacher Himself as Jesus was able to communicate simply and concretely using stories and illustrations.
  • Simplicity — stripping an idea down to its core
  • Unexpectedness — capturing people’s attention and holding it
  • Concreteness — getting people to understand your idea and remember it
  • Credibility — getting people to believe your idea
  • Emotional — getting people to care about your idea
  • Stories — getting people to act on your idea

Though we cannot copy the business world and all its gimics, we can, however, learn from the Heath brothers and strive to make our ideas stick!

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