One of the brilliant things about Jesus as a teacher was his ability to know his audience. He looked into the heart of the woman at the well and knew exactly what to say to her. He had so capably captivated at least five thousand souls by the sea, he had to feed them. He told parables that held truths for the people of ancient Israel and twenty-first century Americans. Jesus knew his audience.

As a teacher, we, too, must know our audience. We do not have Jesus’s ability to know their hearts and minds, but we do have the ability to get to know our students and the women we teach. This may take some effort on our part, but God teaches us through example how to do it in the Bible. Acts 2:46 says,

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.” 

The English Standard Version says, “day by day.” Other versions say “daily” or “every day.” The church met casually every day, not just on Sunday or Wednesday nights.

We cannot get to know our fellow Christians or students if we only spend an hour a week with them. We won’t be able to speak to the heart of the hurting woman if we do not know her struggles. We can be the most knowledgeable woman in the room when it comes to scripture and what Jesus would choose to do in a certain situation, but if we have not taken the time to know them and love them, our words will be a clanging gong just like 1 Corinthians 13 says.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”…1 Corinthians 13:1-2

Oftentimes, as teachers, we may pride ourselves on our teaching abilities. We have great visual aids for the elementary kids or a touching story for our ladies’ devotional group, but our love is in our ability and not our students. When our teaching abilities become our first priority, we must ask ourselves, who is our audience? Is the child sitting quietly in the classroom? Is the woman struggling to find her place in the church? Ourselves? Other teachers? God?

While always expanding and honing our crafts is a good thing, remembering why we do it should be our main goal. God commissioned each one of us to share the good news. If we are doing that by teaching, the good news is not about us! As teachers, our goal should not be the greatest VBS set ever built or the most tears in a women’s circle. Our goal is to bring each one of those people to Christ. We need to be about the people, and we do that by getting to know them.

Ancient Israelite women did their laundry together by the rivers. They ate together in each other’s homes. They were in each other’s lives. They knew that the other women cared for them because they saw it in their daily actions. Their teaching would be held dear to them because they knew the words came from a place of love and not pride. The greatest object lesson in the world does not mean as much as words of wisdom coming from someone who cares. In order to be like Jesus and know our audience, we must love them first and not ourselves.