Friday, July 7, 2023

Truths about Teaching: Know Thyself

There are two great days in everyone's life. The first is the day you were born. And the second is the day you realized why. 

David in the Old Testament was born to lead the nation of Israel as its greatest king. His star still flies on its national flag.

Charles Spurgeon was born to preach. Pastors-in-the-making still read his sermons today.

Henry Ford was born to develop a motorized vehicle. To this day, cars bear his name.

J. S. Bach was born to compose timeless, ageless music. It is still played by our generation.

Michelangelo was born to sculpt and paint. You can still admire his artwork in Rome. 
You too were born, but some of you are yet to realize why. You will be amazed when you discover that. 

I was born at Kapiolani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 9, 1952. That was the day of my birth. But I'll never forget the day when I learned "why." It was a Monday morning at Biola College in September of 1976. I entered the classroom as a teacher for the very first time, hands still black from the ink of the old mimeograph machine I had used to make copies of the class syllabus to pass out that day. In my other hand I carried my assigned textbook of Classical Greek by Chase and Phillips. From that day on, my life has never been the same.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't give thanks for those people in my life who nudged me toward the calling of the classroom. Many of them were teachers themselves. They were men like Lloyd Kwast and Nicholas Kurtanek and Curtis Mitchell, men who were born to teach. We who sat in their classes at Biola were spellbound by their ability to communicate truth. I'll never forget my Hebrew teacher at Talbot. I am no Hebrew scholar, but to this day I read from the Hebrew Scriptures because of that man. In fact, never a day passes when I don't consult the original languages of Scripture. 

As a teacher, there is no greater joy than knowing that God is using your lips or pen to communicate truth that people live by. It is a calling like no other. I plan to continue teaching until the day I die. Where, it doesn't matter. As I've often said, God opens doors, and he closes doors. Our job is simply to know which is which. When I made my first trip to teach in China, I never imagined that it was simply the first of 13 trips to serve the church there. The 6 trips I've made to teach in Korea all came as a complete surprise to me, but I gladly stepped through those doors as well. My 17 trips to Ethiopia were all arranged by him, not by me. Just this week, I was contacted by the president of a new Christian university in Africa. We are going to Zoom with each other on Monday. Where that will lead, I do not know. But God does.

You and I were obviously born. But there is a reason we were born. That reason is to give yourself wholeheartedly to that assignment God has designed for your life. The ancient Greeks used to put it this way, "Know thyself." 

I might restate it like this: Be who you are. Be what God created you to be, and do what he designed for you and you alone to do. Please don't miss that.

You may know that I had a woman that stuck with me for 37 wonderful years of marriage, and I am so grateful for the life of Becky Black. I realize as I type this that she was there for me through all the joys and heartaches of my teaching career, and I've usually been the one to get the credit. In point of fact, she was the wind beneath my wings. I know that sounds sort of corny, but it's true. I would not be here today had it not been for God giving her to me. And even though she can't me hear me say it, "Thank you, sweetheart. Thank you for helping to make me the man I am today. I will never, ever forget you. I love you."