Having good teachers for young children is vital to inciting a love for learning. I like to think, as one gets older and is motivated to learn themselves, the detrimental effects of having a bad teacher/ professor are minimized. But that is the academic world. What about spiritual teachers?
First of all, let’s just move past my own personal belief that early childhood teachers should be both spiritual and academic teachers. I could talk about that for hours and have already touched on it here.
You should read this amazing article about how to spot a good vs. bad teacher pastor.
Although that’s an excellent article which brings together all or most of the scriptural references to discerning whether a teacher is good or bad, I still think it’s all an over simplification. Today we have an abundance of teachers or people claiming to or wanting to teach and it’s near to impossible to figure out who to listen to and who is full of it. With mega churches, we have teams of pastors, often with differing viewpoints on the fine grain details of Christianity.
10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement.11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work. 2 John 1: 10-11
This is one of relatively few verses that can be construed as encouraging any kind of meanness. But how can we do this? There’s been several times I’ve listened to a speaker and though “Hmm.. that doesn’t sound biblical” and yet, in almost the same breath, I’ve heard them say things that I can only attribute to the holy spirit guiding them to reach the audience.
I will willingly listen to a speaker/pastor again and again even if they’ve said things I don’t agree with. However, there’s one thing that’s intolerable.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Romans 16:17-18
With the advent of the internet, everyone has a platform. This is a good thing and a bad thing. Our ability to discern a good teacher from a bad teacher is being tested like never before simply because there are so many teachers that we are exposed to.
A combative person is much different than one who stands sternly for what the Bible speaks to them but greets opposition with love, warmth, and understanding.
2 John asks us not to encourage bad teachers. But it is not always cut and dry to know who is the bad teacher. We know if they do not confess Jesus as God’s son, that’s an easy tell not to listen. But it gets stickier. It gets more confusing. It’s a difficult line to walk because what if we accept a teacher who is a bad teacher? 2 John says we too are then part of their evil work.
Today I am praying for wisdom to discern who to accept as a teacher, and how to treat those I do not accept.