Teachers as Examples . . .In Conduct

Miss Kerr was my fifth grade teacher. She taught my class about the dangers of smoking cigarettes. One day, when I was near her desk, I saw in her open purse a package of Rothmans. I felt devastated by my discovery of cancer sticks in her purse.

As a pastor/teacher, Timothy was told in 1 Timothy 4:12, the verse on which we are basing this series, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation.” Conversation here means “way of life, behavior, lifestyle, and conduct.”?In secular schools of our day, the question of a teacher’s lifestyle and behavior is seen as irrelevant or inappropriate. But how a teacher lives outside of class is very important. A teacher teaches not only by what he says, but also by what he is.

Years ago, before such widespread tolerance of sin and wickedness, the connection between the teacher’s character and conduct and his suitability to teach was commonly accepted. For example, in a list of rules for teachers posted by a New York City principal in 1872, we find the following admonitions: “Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly. After ten hours in school, the teachers should spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barbershop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intentions, integrity, and honesty.”

As a homeschool teacher, incidental teaching will be even more prominent than in a classroom. Your children observe you closely as you face situations which bring frustrations, failure, and perplexity. You teach powerfully by your example as you demonstrate perseverance, prayer, patience, and reliance on God. It is during those times that you don’t think of yourself as teaching that you teach most.

A young man once said to his father, “When I was young there were times when you set out to tell me how to live the good life. I could always tell such moments and closed my ears and my mind. Your most influential moments were your most inadvertent ones. I imitated what you really were, not what you said.” With reference to a father’s behavior and values, someone said, “Till a boy is fifteen, he does what his father says; after that, he does what his father is.”

The Apostle Paul’s way of life was so consistent and exemplary that he could tell the Thessalonians, “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children” (1 Thessalonians 2:10, 11).

Consider a few areas in which a homeschool teacher should show exemplary behavior.

Church Services

As parental teachers, do you portray in church services the reverence and interest you want your children to show during your worship period? Do you listen with alert eyes, suitable posture, and attentive ears? Are you prompt? Do you show yourself friendly to a variety of people after the service—helping each to feel accepted and edified?


Do your clothes reflect an affinity for the world and its fashions, or adherence to Biblical and church guidelines? The Bible teaches modesty, simplicity, and nonconformity in dress—does your wardrobe demonstrate these principles?

Home Life

Wives, do your children see you cheerfully and humbly submitting to your husband? Husbands, how do they see you exercising authority in the home? How do you relate to church authority?    

Just before giving instruction to spouses, children and parents, Paul teaches important precepts that form a foundation for good homes. Colossians 3:12-15 says, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

You want your children to show these qualities of kindness, humility, self-control, patience, forgiveness, love, peaceableness, and gratitude in your home. What do they see in your life?


Your children observe your driving habits. Do they see you tailgating, speeding, or being inattentive? Check yourself if a police car following you alters your driving.

Christ modeled perfectly what He taught. That is what made His teaching so powerful. As a Christian teacher, your goal is to lead pupils to follow Christ. As a Christian homeschool teacher, you want your children to see past you to Christ. In effect, you say with Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

Let me illustrate. Years ago there lived in Switzerland a great schoolmaster named Pestalozzi. He was respected and greatly loved, especially by the children who came under his influence. After he died, a monument was erected to help remember his influence and his importance.

The day came for its unveiling . The sculptor had succeeded so well in reproducing the likeness of the schoolmaster that all were impressed. The statue showed the teacher looking down upon the kneeling form of a little child who gazed back at him.

Though the statue was a wonderful work of art, the teacher’s closest friends felt that the sculptor had failed to represent his dominant desire—to have his students look upward to new goals and to God, not to look with wonderment upon him.

So a change was made. At the second unveiling all were pleased to see the kneeling child looking, not at the face of the teacher, but upward into the distance, as if to God and the future.

—Howard Bean

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