The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
While sitting at in-service today, the above verse was brought up in reference to the most essential task of Christian educators, namely forming disciples. After our Head of School mentioned this verse, he followed up the passage with a piercing question that caused a little self reflection. I don’t remember his exact words, but here’s the gist:
Like their teacher . . . would you be satisfied if your students left your room like you are right now?
I don’t think my answer is “Yes.” I look into the mirror and see what others don’t see. I see those things that could dramatically hinder a life of holiness and kingdom-work. I would much prefer myself to be far more disciplined in my life of faith, far less materialistic, far more merciful and patient. In short, I’d prefer my life to look more like Christ’s.
Here’s where it really gets painful. It can. There’s nothing complex about the “how to” of the Christian life; it’s just really hard.
Take, for example, Jesus’ statement in Matthew 18 where he says “If X causes you to sin, remove it.” What’s complex about that? Can you think of just one thing that, if you were honest, was harming your spiritual growth? I can. But, have I removed it? No.
Not complex. Hard.
I don’t want this for my students. If they were fully trained and were like me, than “fully trained” would be a rather egregious misnomer. I want better for them. How can I give them better? I can give them better by being a better teacher, and I don’t mean merely a better intellectual salesman. I can, through the Holy Spirit, give my students a more robust, joyful presentation of Christ by being personally more in love with Christ. And, being more in love with Christ comes with doing more things with Him, things like Scripture, the spiritual disciplines, prayer, mercy, etc.
If you are a teacher, take a moment and reflect carefully on Luke 6:40. Reflect on the powerful truth that is this: fully trained students will be like you (not merely think like you). Are you comfortable with that?