How many realize that everyone of us has opportunity to teach outside the classroom? "What a wonderful sight!" Richard Ames and I, both faculty members of Ambassador College, were standing on the stairs of the lobby of the Ambassador Auditorium, waiting for the procession that would start the annual graduation ceremony.
Before us were the young men and women who would shortly receive their diplomas. They looked so elegant the men in formal suits, the women in long, white dresses and carrying bouquets of red roses.
It was this sight that prompted Mr. Ames's remark.
I knew how he felt. Those students represented thousands of hours of teaching and counseling. Looking over the undergraduates as they waited expectantly, I recalled the times that I had spent with them.
Because Ambassador College is small and has a high faculty-to-student ratio, we can get to know our students personally. There were the brilliant students who had worked hard to graduate with honors. There were also those who had really struggled just to make it through. They all gave us special satisfaction.
We could see students from many different countries, for Ambassador College is an educational institution of a truly Worldwide Church of God.
There was the student from Africa who had such a hard time paying his bills when the economy collapsed at home. And the young woman from France who " found ze Eenglish grammaire so difficile." And over there was the Australian who had been so homesick for the first few months.
But they had all surmounted their difficulties, and now as they were about to graduate (or, as they so sensibly say in America, "commence" — it is really a beginning), we faculty could share their satisfaction.
Their success was our success. And I knew what Mr. Ames meant. They were a wonderful sight. Perhaps only their teachers appreciated just how wonderful.
An important role There are few things in this life as hard or as rewarding as teaching.
To pass on the things that you have learned so that others will know them and be able to enjoy them and use them, maybe even more effectively than you yourself have done that is not something to be taken lightly.
It isn't always easy. There are times of frustration, and there are the students who fail. You tend to take those failures personally. But then there is the thrill of seeing many of those that you have taught becoming successful.
I wish every reader of this magazine could share the feeling of accomplishment that Mr. Ames, myself and all the faculty members of Ambassador College know each year at graduation. And you will one day!
Called to be teachers Jesus Christ called us all to be teachers. He instructed His apostles, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations... teaching them to observe all things that 1 have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Most of the people the apostles preached to were not willing to be taught at that time. One of those who was willing was a young man, Timothy, who had heard the apostle Paul teach. As he matured, Timothy became one of Paul's most trusted assistants. Paul gave him the responsibility of pastoring the church that had been raised up in the city of Ephesus.
In his second letter to Timothy, outlining his responsibilities, Paul told him, "The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (II Timothy 2:2).
Let's look again at this instruction from the apostle Paul. He makes a most important point, not only to Timothy, but to you and me.
Timothy's job was to teach. Teach what? The things that he himself had been taught by Paul. Teach whom? Capable and faithful men. Why? So that they could go on and teach others also. Timothy's job, then, was to teach others to become teachers. It IS the same today.
God is preparing teachers Through God's apostles, many have been taught, and they, in turn, have taught others. Somewhere in that progression of teaching you have come into contact with the truth of God.
Maybe it was from the World Tomorrow broadcast, or an article in The Plain Truth. Maybe it was contact with some person, or from the Correspondence Course, or perhaps even this magazine. Whatever it was, your interest was aroused, and you decided you would like to learn more. God then began using His servants to teach you to grow in knowledge and understanding.
But it doesn't stop there.
Study, and particularly the study of the Bible, should never become just an end in itself. The reason why you should desire to learn is so that you yourself can one day teach others. The knowledge that you have gained by studying the truth of God is far too precious for you to keep all to yourself.
Jesus Christ regards the education He is giving you as an investment. He expects to be able to capitalize on that investment when the right time comes.
There are always people who want to be teachers before God is ready to give them that office. They try to launch themselves into the ministry, many times, or other positions of authority.
But God decides when you become a teacher. It is not something you take to yourself. It is, indeed, foolish to take it upon yourself, because unless God backs you up you are going to fail miserably and earn God's displeasure instead of qualifying for His reward.
Jesus Christ has chosen only some of the men that He has called in each age to become the teachers and ministers of His people.
Why? Because they are His favorites? So that He can leave the rest of His people feeling thwarted and inferior? Not at all.
Why teachers? Perhaps some in Timothy's church at Ephesus were becoming impatient. Notice what Paul wrote to them: "And He [Jesus Christ] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God" (Ephesians 4:11-13).
In other words, He called some to teach so that all can succeed. God hasn't called everyone to be a teacher in this age. That would lead to confusion, something that God never creates (I Corinthians 14:33). He knows what He is doing.
God's plan is eventually to take mankind out of the clutches of Satan and undo the effects of 6,000 years of wrong education. He has chosen you to help Him do that. But not until He is ready, and not until you are ready.
When the time comes, God will send Jesus Christ back to the earth to take over the rulership of all the nations and begin to teach mankind how to live. At Christ's return God will resurrect those He has prepared and educated, and give them positions of rulership and service. Then they can help in the reeducation of the world. This will be the greatest challenge ever placed before a team of teachers, because the whole world has been led astray by Satan (Revelation 12:9).
The greatest teaching challenge In the world tomorrow entire nations will come to Jesus Christ, asking to be taught a new way of life (Isaiah 2:3, Micah 4:2).
You, as a resurrected, immortal member of God's Family, may be sent back with them to their homelands to begin the process of education. It may take a long time. Some students are slower than others. Some peoples have degenerated a long way.
But your people will eventually succeed, for God is not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9), and you as their teacher will be armed with the knowledge, the power, the ability, the patience and the love of God.
For the first time, people all over the world will learn how to be happy and live in peace. Families will learn how to get along. Men will discover how to be successful in their jobs and their personal lives. Women will learn how to be happy as wives and mothers. Children will grow up without the frustrations and setbacks that so often befall them in this age. And people all over the world will begin to understand the way of God.
As they rebuild their shattered cities and resettle their once-devastated farmlands, you will be there, guiding and leading them in a way that works.
Preparing now The experiences you have had in this life will be turned to good advantage to help people in the world tomorrow, just as Paul used his experiences to help us (II Corinthians 1:6-7). In that day you will look back with gratitude on the trials you face now. Through these experiences God is teaching us valuable lessons.
On the Sabbaths and Holy Days, you will teach your people in groups. At other times, perhaps in the evenings after work, you'll be able to get to know them as families and individuals.
Remember that with a glorified, immortal mind and body, you will never get tired or run out of energy. You'll have all the time you need to fulfill the needs of those God has sent you to serve.
Some of them will find the new way of life easy. Others may find it hard to adjust. Eventually the people that you have taught will be ready to be born into the Kingdom of God. It will be the greatest day of their lives.
And you will be there to share it. As they stand before the throne of God, waiting to receive their reward, you will have the deep satisfaction of knowing that you helped them achieve this, the greatest possible success.
God wants everyone of us to experience the joy of teaching.
For a more detailed look at what the Bible reveals the world tomorrow will be like, read our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow - What It Will Be Like.