Paul gives a lot of great advice to Titus.
He needed it, since Paul left him alone on the island of Crete where he was surrounded by liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons, and dishonest teachers who spread convincing lies.
After a laundry-type list of things to teach, Paul says:
“Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.” (2:15)
I’m sure there’s lots of ways to be despised based as we minister to our students, but this verse points out at least 7 ways we might harden the hearts of our hearers:
The first way to be despised is to teach WITHOUT encouragement, rebuke, or authority–a total strike out. Ultimately, this kind of teacher has nothing to say. When listeners tune in and find nothing but static, they will eventually tune out.
The second way is to teach with encouragement, but LACK correction and authority. It is a great thing to lift others up! However, sound teaching is more than telling people what they want to hear–and it’s made all the more worse by lacking conviction.
The third teaching pairs encouragement with authority, but skips over any correction. It is not enough be passionate and positive! Everyone carries guilt because of the mistakes we’ve made, and these need to be addressed.
The fourth teaching mistake is to encourage and rebuke without any sense of authority. This teacher says all the right things, but lacks the right confidence.
The fifth way to fail is to rebuke without encouragement or conviction. Think Debbie Downer without any self-esteem, I can think of no faster way to limit your influence.
The sixth way to stink as a teacher is to rebuke with authority, but rarely encourage. Drill sergeants are great for the armed services! Not so much as a shepherd over the flock entrusted to us.
The seventh way to earn despisment is to speak strongly without meaning. Some people teach with authority, but lack encouragement and correction. Maybe they tell great stories or share obscure Bible facts, but the net result is to offer up shadows without substance.
Maybe you are thinking, “Matt, could you put this into a handy chart?” To that I say, “Yes. Here you go:”
What isn’t obvious is WHEN to encourage and WHEN to correct.That’s between you and the Holy Spirit! If your students have stopped listening, then i wouls suggest it’s time to take a look at what you are saying.