A friend and I were recently discussing a man who is considered by many to be a good Bible teacher, and by just as many others to be, in personal terms, a selfish, arrogant jerk.
Is it possible to be both a "good Bible teacher" and a "jerk?" The Biblical answer is a resounding "No!"
"The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (II Timothy 2:24-25).
"Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted" (Ephesians 4:32).
"Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Peter 1:5-8).
Clearly, the capacity to understand, organize and communicate Biblical truth alone does not qualify to preach and teach. If God's communicators are to avoid being "unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," kindness and love must pervade their attitudes, words and actions. This does not preclude forthright presentation of the Word of God in both preaching and in personal terms. The man of God must be willing to say hard things to people. He cannot do so, however, with a hard heart. It is not enough to merely state correct things, even correct Biblical things. The life must preach Christ as well as the tongue or the pen. Failure to understand this frequent Scriptural mandate often compromises the message to the degree that a distorted caricature of the Lord Jesus is presented rather than His true character.
There is no better thing to pray for our pastors and our teachers than the request that their lives will consistently and increasingly represent Christ as He truly is. Upon this basis of faithful messengers, faithful messages go forth in the power of Truth and of the Holy Spirit. May God mercifully raise up a vast company of such Christ-honoring hearts and voices in this dark generation that needs to see the Lord Jesus in the personal life of preachers and teachers no less than in their pulpits.
"O man of God... follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
(I Timothy 6:11)