Have you ever noticed how asking a question is a great way to start a conversation? If your answer is “no”, then have you ever noticed how saying “no” is a great way to end a conversation? If your answer is “no” again, have you ever even had a conversation?!
All joking aside, I’d like to try this at least once, probably on a flight. I mean where would I find a more captive audience for such an experiment? If a person sitting by me on my next flight answers “no” to both of those questions, I’ll probably say something like “Okay, good talk!” and the conversation will likely end right there.
If the person answers “yes” to either question, there is a good chance we’ll both laugh and find ourselves at the start of an interesting conversation. Why might we laugh? For starters, if the person doesn’t notice it right away, I’ll probably point out that the question I used to start our conversation was “Have you ever noticed how asking a question is a great way to start a conversation?”
Questions are also important learning tools. I’m not going to say “Question everything”, but certainly we should ask questions when we’re being told something that is unclear or doesn’t sound quite right. For example, I don’t need to question somebody who tells me to run when a tree is about to fall on top of me. However, if a college professor tells me I should accept a theory as true without having first provided sufficient evidence to that end, it would be to my advantage to ask good questions for clarification and education.
Who are our teachers anyway? Many of us picture a teacher being in a large room with student desks, a teacher’s desk and some kind of board on the wall at the front of the room. College students might picture a professor in an auditorium with several rows of theatre style seats for students, a lectern for the professor and perhaps an overhead projector or other screen at the front of the auditorium. People of religion likely picture their religious leader in a large room with some kind of seating for worshipers, a stage for the leader to speak from and other accoutrements that fit their particular religion.
While all the above are certainly standard examples of where many of us are taught, it seems to me that anything I can learn from is my teacher. A teacher is usually a person but can be all sorts of things. I have gained knowledge from observing animals, being out in nature and through trial and error (aka “The hard way!”).
We are all teachers. We teach each other explicitly and implicitly, not only by our words but also by our actions. The question is, what kind of teachers are we? Should we be able to trust that whatever our teachers are telling us is the truth? What makes a good teacher anyway?
The apostle Paul was certainly concerned for what the believers in Thessalonica were being taught when he wrote this to them in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (ESV): “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”
Apparently, some false teachers had come along and caused the church there to accept the strange claim that Jesus had come again. Paul wrote to reassure them that Jesus had in fact not come again, and to strengthen their resolve in the face of persecution and deception from outside the church (and possibly within).
What then is the takeaway? I suggest that you really get to know your teachers, not only to find out exactly what they are teaching you but also find out their motivation for teaching you in the first place. Granted, animals, nature, and trial and error are not likely to have motives to teach you. But observe those humans as if your life depended on it!