James 3:1 says “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” As a teacher by profession, that is quite a scary verse! At the Bible study on Thursday, we looked at this verse and considered the question ‘what makes a good teacher?’

Those who teach carry great responsibility, and those who have greater responsibility will be judged accordingly (see 1 Cor 4:2, Matt 25:29). In the context of James 3, the teacher’s use of words is perhaps their greatest tools and as we saw, words can be used to encourage and build up or to cut down and destroy.

We looked at a range of quotations about teachers:
1) “A good teacher should promote the active engagement of the learner.” (Mary James)
2) “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” (William Arthur Ward)
3) “What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches. “ (Karl Menninger)
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5) “Nine-tenths of education is encouragement. “(Anatole France)
6) “A good teacher is kind, is generous, listens to you, encourages you, has faith in you, keeps confidences, likes teaching, likes teaching their subject, takes time to explain things, helps you when you’re stuck, tells you how you are doing, allows you to have your say, doesn’t give up on you, cares for your opinion, makes you feel clever, treats people equally, stands up for you, makes allowances, tells the truth and is forgiving.” (the sayings of pupils in a secondary school who were asked this question.)
7) “A good teacher is somebody who learns more every day.”
8) “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. (Henry Brooks Adams)
9) “The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called “truth.” (Dan Rather)

James is well aware, however, that we all stumble in many ways and the need to tame the tongue applies to all of us, not just teachers. For those who teach, however, James 3:1 is a constant reminder of the responsibility we carry and should be an incentive to guard our speech, mindful that our words carry influence.