July 28, 2008

A Frightening Verse

I came across a verse this morning that knocked me back a little bit – namely, Luke 6.40:

A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.

The part of the verse that frightened me a little bit was the later half: “Everyone … will be like his teacher.” Because it occurred to me that, as I am the primary teacher for the little group of pupils at PRBC, lots of people are going to be like me (for better or for worse). They may not even want to be like me, but in some ways they will. Because it is primarily me who instructs, encourages, rebukes, and trains them how to think biblically. And I am also the one (again, for better or for worse) who sets the tone for how a Christian should live. And because their eyes are so often on me, and their ears are so often listening to me, they will in some ways become like me – without even realizing that they are becoming so. That is not to say there will be 65 or 70 Kurt clones running around (I can hear the collective sigh of relief even as I type that). We all, in most respects, remain our own quirky selves. But it does mean that many of my character traits, thinking patterns, beliefs, and attitudes are rubbing off on my people almost imperceptibly.

Now it doesn’t seem like it would be true. It seems like any one of us could listen to a teacher (or observe his example) and then take the good, throw out the bad, and not really have to become like him. But the reality (both biblical and observable) is that we humans don’t always divide our lives up like that. That is why we become like the people we listen to most – even in characteristics we don’t like about them. And we’ve all seen it – teams take on the persona of their coaches, children act a lot like their parents, PhD candidates imitate their mentors, and congregations become like their pastors. I’ve seen examples of this … and perhaps you have, too. A pastor has a certain strength (be it theological or practical), and the church eventually develops an overabundance of people with similar strength. Another pastor has a particular weakness, and the congregation often follows him in that train as well. Perhaps some outside our fellowship are far enough removed from PRBC so as to see these kinds of things working out in us (although the comment section of this blog is not the appropriate format for pointing these things out!).

So I got a little unnerved this morning. ‘Am I really the kind of person that I want people to turn into?’ Not nearly as much as I would like. So I write this simply to remind you to pray for me, or for your own pastor. Are there ways that you see he needs to grow? Then please, please pray for him. Or are their ways that you need to grow? Pray that the Lord helps him to teach and to live in such a way that, in becoming like your teacher, you would become whom you need and want to be in Jesus. Overall, I think, just pray that your pastor would be like and speak much of Jesus. Then none of us would have to worry about becoming too much like the teacher.

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