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No One is to Be Called 'Teacher,' but What Does That Mean?

“But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Matthew 23:7–12, ESV

Fellow Bible teachers, humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord. There are no great teachers, except God alone. There is a great God, and fallible people called by Him to help our fellow believers learn how to feed themselves from God‘s Word. We are all just humble sinners, saved by Grace, and expressing our gratitude by serving our Master. God calls every teacher in the Body of Christ to serve the needs of His people. We‘re just teachers among many other teachers, all called by God. He alone is our Teacher and Instructor.

After giving up your evenings, weekends, to make sure you are accurate in your teaching, pride can seduce you into thinking more of yourself than you ought. From there, it’s easy to believe you are more right than all the other teachers. Trust me, you aren‘t.

For most of my ministry, I was a popular Adult Sunday School teacher in a mega-church. Folks came to hear me teach, and I did everything in my power to deliver the Word of Truth. I spoke at retreats and conferences. I preached, taught on TV, and had a ministry that reached to many places far beyond home. I was an evangelism teacher and trainer.

My career took off, and I even helped write a book published by Microsoft Press. My house was one of the biggest in our church, and my business did well too. I consulted at NASA, USSOCOM/HQ, Abbott Labs, and far too many others to even remember. My technology and strategic speaking and training engagements took me all over the world. I thought I was something, a cut above, with a heart more pure, and a mind more intelligent than everyone else’s. I was wrong.

A few years later, I had divorced, my business collapsed, I lost my house, my ministries, my church, my role as an elder, and my reputation. I contracted a very rare, very painful and destructive disease with no cure. Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis and it‘s co-morbid diseases are not a lot of laughs. Even worse perhaps, the medicine that saved my life would have to continue for the rest of my life. With GPA, untreated disease kills you in a few months, and the medication often kills you in a few years. My disease has destroyed my “Health Related Quality of Life” over the years, but that’s OK. Let me bottom-line this: It turns out I am nothing, a sinner saved by Grace.

Which thankfully takes my story back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

My future with God doesn‘t depend on my own actions, faithfulness, righteousness, lack of sin, diligence, ministries, relationships, reputations, or other works. The Lord pruned all that junk away so I could grow true. Your heart is the desire of God’s heart. Your efforts and accomplishments are close to useless. When my sons were little, they always wanted to help me around the house. It made me happy and proud to have them help, but having a two-year-old help you is only ten times harder than doing it by yourself. The same is true for God. He loves having us in the mix with Him, but productivity isn’t the point. And so, serving God for the wrong reasons, for your popularity and selfish ambition is deadly, because you can drag countless believers down with you. I’m thankful that the Lord took away almost everything I held dear, to grow me in Christ likeness. It was a mercy.

I am so very grateful to Jesus Christ for the disasters, the suffering, the loss, the illness, the pain, the fatigue, losing function and stamina, losing important people in my life. Why? Because Jesus used my pain to make me a better and more Christlike man. I’m still just a sinner saved by faith through Grace from the saving power of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross, and resurrection. I’m just a regular dude with all the fears, foibles, and diseases common to man. I’m just as big a dirt bag as anyone else in the world.

If you want to pray for me, then pray that I will not outlive my love for Jesus, I will know my place, and that I will have the courage and strength to stand the test and run the race set before me. May My God find me to be a good steward of my pain and suffering. More on that sometime later.

Our Gracious Lord and Savior has lifted me up and given me the wife of my dreams, a barrier-free house, new family, new friends, a beautiful church, and life. I’m in terrible pain, even as I write this. It‘s like having a real bad case of the flu, arthritis, confusion, memory loss, cognitive loss, chronic fatigue, muscle pain, failing eyesight, failing hearing, and recurrent depression, at the same time. All day, every day. But I am oddly content and filled with an indescribable joy.

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