I am a teacher. And I must confess that I have an obsession with being correct - especially when it comes to my theology. Not (I hope) in an arrogant way but rather (again, I hope) my desire springs from an honest desire to know truth. We teacher types can be annoying with our attention to detail and obsession with doctrinal purity. Believe me, I've been on the receiving end of other teacher types who have taken me to the "theological woodshed" and I can testify that it's really not a pleasant experience. I teach theology at a Bible Institute but not just in the confines of a hermetically sealed classroom. My teaching, of course, is reflected in how I actually live my life and especially how I conduct myself in challenging situations. One such challenging situation happened last week. Let me tell you about it.
My oldest son is in charge of the "Juniors" group at our church (I call it the Tweens - ages 10 to 14) and he has a staff of five or so youth workers to help him run the group. So recently one of his staff members got ahold of an "exorcism manual" and, well, pretty much started trying to cast demons out of everything. So my son asked for the manual and gave it to me to check out. I won't get into the specifics of the manual here but, suffice it to say that, at its best moments it's alarmist and at its worst - heretical. In short, this particular excorcism manual is not what a young Christian youth worker needs to be reading. So I sat down with the youth worker and explained to him some of the non-, anti- and extra-Biblical points of the manual and he was both receptive and appreciative of what I told him. End of story, right? No! It turns out that the manual was given out to all of the youth staff volunteers of the youth group (ages 15 and up) at our church by the youth pastor himself! So now I have to go to the youth pastor and talk to him about why it's not a good idea to be reading this "exorscism manual." Herein lies the challenge: I can be right in doctrine but wrong in spirit (the way I go about doing the correction). "But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine." (Titus 2:1) and "the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach ... correcting his opponents with gentleness" (II Timothy 3:24,25).
So this is what we must do as teachers - teach and correct with all authority but in kindness and humility. Not that we're the "experts" in everything - and of course we ourselves are not above correction - but the role of teachers in the Body of Christ is an important one. So at present this story is pending ... I hope to be able to talk to the youth pastor and his wife today. Pray for me!