Isn’t it nice when you discover that someone has put into words something that you already knew to be true on an instinctual level? A few years ago I stumbled upon a quote that resonated with my soul. As a preacher/teacher, I sort of knew what I was trying to do – I wasn’t really so interested in ‘educating’ as I was in ‘inspiring’. However, ‘Inspiring’ is not usually listed as a Learning Outcome on many course outlines, much to my disappointment.
What I had realised from my own life is that inspiring someone is often better than just educating, simply because inspiration is its own motivation. Teaching someone how to read the Bible is good, but it won’t necessarily lead to more Bibles being read. Inspiring someone to read the Bible? Well, that’s a different matter. People who are motivated to do something will find ways of doing it, even if they haven’t been taught how to. Of course, the best preaching/teaching does both – teaches you how to do something and motivates you to do it. I might be in a minority here, but if I can only do one of those things I’ll plump for inspiration every time. When I look back on my life, it’s been my desire to follow Christ that has carried me through the dry, hard, lonely times. God can make up for the shortfall of ignorance, but He can’t do anything with a cold heart.
Anyway, the quote. It’s from a French writer and pilot called Antoine de Saint-Expury:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
How much better would the quality of our faith be if we had not taught people ‘The Christian Way to Do Things’, but instead had given them a hunger for God?