Training and leadership development is recognized as a necessary investment by successful businesses. Parents spend significant amounts of money on books and materials that teach them how to train their children. Some of you parents may be wondering, “I’ve spent so much money on parenting books; I should have a greater return on my investment!” How can I do a better job at training others?
As we consider the topic of developing others, we see that Jesus devoted significant time to the training of His disciples. He was not merely concerned with what they knew, but how they acted. He did not just teach them to know facts, but He trained them to live a life pleasing to God.
The Gospels present many examples of Jesus’ effectiveness as a teacher, but Mark 6 is an excellent example of the model of education Jesus used with His disciples. Starting at verse 7, Jesus “. . . summoned the 12 and began to send them out in pairs; and He was giving them authority over the unclean spirits; and He instructed them . . .” Jesus instructed them how to do ministry. The word ‘instruction’ is not the usual word for teaching; rather this word implies instruction for a duty. It was often the term used to convey military orders. Formal teaching is important, but we also need to learn through hands-on experience. The saying is true, “I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do, I understand.” The world is a classroom around us. Are you learning as you go through life? Are you helping others to learn?
Application follows instruction. We read that the disciples, “. . . went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.” This leads to another principle of training, “expression deepens impression.” The disciples had been with Jesus, they knew the basics, but they lacked ministry experience. Imagine someone telling you about fishing. He gives you advice on how to fish and what lures to use. You ask the person, “Where do you go fishing?” He responds, “I’ve never been fishing, but I’ve read plenty about it.” What are your thoughts concerning his advice? This person has never experienced the excitement of a fish tugging on his line; he doesn’t know the heartbreak of losing a fish just before you land it. He knows about fishing, but he doesn’t know fishing. Jesus realized that if people are to grow and develop they must gain experience.
Jesus provided instruction, the disciples gained ministry experience and then Jesus brought closure to their training experience. Verse 30 says, “. . . the apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught.” Instruction leads to application and is followed by reflection. Reflection is the integration of biblical principles with life experiences thereby developing convictions. The model of education that Jesus demonstrated in Mark 6 is available to us as we train others. How have you used Jesus’ model of training in your life?