Teachers' Temptations

Temptation 1: Deal only with Bible facts.

Example
Who was the grandfather of Methuselah?

Tempting Reasons
• The teacher is flattered that information is transferred, because this creates the illusion that something significant is happening.
• People enjoy hearing new information. Read Acts 17:21.
• Facts are easy to keep at arm’s length from the heart.
• It is easy for the teacher to know more facts than the students.
• Guessing games are fun because they give the teacher an air of self-importance.

Effects
• Attending class becomes a formality.
• Students pride themselves in a knowledge of facts rather than in an understanding of God.
• People become inoculated to spiritual growth because they are exposed to spiritual life without catching it.

What’s Wrong?
Facts are useless unless applied to life. Read Testimonies for the Church, volume 4, page 546.

Jesus Said
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39, NKJV).

Temptation 2: Make class members listeners only.

Tempting Reasons
• It’s fun to hear ourselves talk, because we have profound things to say.
• People tell us we taught a wonderful lesson.
• Some students like to be spoon-fed.
• It seems like we are having Sabbath School.

Effects
• Little learning takes place.
• The teacher receives most of the blessing.
• People become hearers of the law but not doers.
• Formality is encouraged.

What’s Wrong?
We get no feedback to determine if the message was suited to the students or if the message was received.

Jesus Said
• “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24).
• Teach them “to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20).

Other Quotations
• “Not what the speaker expresses from his own mind, but what the hearer understands and reproduces in his mind, measures the communicating power of the language used” (The Seven Laws of Teaching, p. 56).
• The Bible was not written so much to be studied as to be practiced. Some people are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).

Temptation 3: Ask only rote questions and encourage pat answers.

Examples
• How many disciples did Jesus have? Where did the spies stay when they went to Jericho? When should we celebrate the Sabbath? Who found a coin in the mouth of a fish?
• “The teaching of the scribes and elders was cold and formal, like a lesson learned by rote” (The Desire of Ages, p. 253).

Tempting Reasons
• Rote questions are easy to ask.
• We feel we’re doing something holy, since we are talking about the Bible.
• We can experience the formality of Bible study apart from interaction with it.
• Students like to test their knowledge of facts.
• We enjoy giving the right answer when students give the wrong one.
• We may flatter ourselves that we are at least getting participation.

Effects
“As the student sacrifices the power to reason and judge for himself, he becomes incapable of discriminating between truth and error, and falls an easy prey to deception” (Education, p. 230).

What’s Wrong?
Rote questions deal primarily with facts rather than understanding or application.

Jesus Asked
• “What do you think, Simon?” (Matt. 17:25).
• “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” (Luke 10:26).


Jim Kilmer
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists