Show people how to live.

Teachers are comfortable demonstrating almost anything. Piano teachers play scales for students. Personal trainers show how to do push-ups correctly. Math teachers work sample problems.

Teachers often explain the theory underlying what they are teaching. How a major scale differs from a minor scale. How muscle groups are strengthened by repeated use. How theorems underlie geometric proofs.

Teachers point out ways to improve performance: “curve your fingers a bit more.” “Keep your back straight as you bend your elbows.” “Show your work more clearly so you can see where you might be going wrong.”

We have looked at the first two steps in delegation that Jethro taught his son-in-law Moses. The first was to remember your job. The second was to teach the people who they are. The third step is Show people how to live. 

When Jethro told Moses  “Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave,” he was telling Moses to do what piano teachers, trainers and math teachers do.  

Moses was responsible to live out God’s instructions himself. Just as Ezra committed himself to study, practice, and teach the Law (which we know as the law of Moses, but was actually from God), Jethro was connecting teaching with showing.

I often hear people refuse to offer themselves as good examples of following God. “I struggle all the time,” you say. “I’m inconsistent,” you say. I understand that. But I also understand that if I am a leader, I have to show you how I do and don’t obey, how I struggle with some things and succeed with others.

Just as piano teaching has theory but isn’t merely theoretical, teaching people obedience has theology but is ultimately practiced and practical. Or it’s not really teaching.

3 thoughts on “Show people how to live.

  1. Rich Dixon

    And the old teacher recites his favorite advice to young teachers: “Talking isn’t teaching and listening isn’t learning.”

    Usually followed by a blank stare, but that’s okay.


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