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Epistula | 3 Minutes

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Preparing for Life, & What It Takes to Teach

Dr. Bob Cannon Written by Dr. Bob Cannon
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Preparing for Life, & What It Takes to Teach

I recently competed in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament and had my nose broken (which isn’t supposed to happen). We relish the opportunity to apply chokes, joint locks, and sweeps, not heels to the face. But, things like this happen. Similarly, as Christians, we’d like to protect our children as we send them into battle for God’s Kingdom. We’d like for them to encounter only expected challenges, but let’s face it, this isn’t reality. In light of the fact that life deals us “the unexpected,” it’s crucial that we prepare our children for it. We should be equipping them for whatever comes their way, recognizing that the world doesn’t always play by the rules. 

Preparation is at the heart of what I love about my work. I know that Veritas students are going to encounter challenges in life – in their schooling, in their work, and of the utmost concern, to their faith. Too often, it happens that the Christian is asked why he believes what he believes, and his response is something to the effect of, “It’s just faith.” As well-intentioned as this may be, it doesn’t persuade the unbeliever. It behooves us as Christians to prepare our children “to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), and to always be ready “to give a defense...” (1 Pet. 3:15).

To prepare the young hearts and minds of our children, doesn’t it follow that we ourselves need to be effectively prepared? Specifically, how are we to instill the values and knowledge and reason in our children that we want them to “own” if we are not intentional about how to go about this crucial work of teaching them? This leads us to a big question: What constitutes a great teacher? Put another way, how is a homeschooling parent or a child’s teacher to shepherd a student’s learning?

I’d like to give you a sense of what I look for in identifying the best teacher candidates at VSA. (And if you ever submit an application to teach, I expect that now you’ll know how you might answer one of our questions).

  1. Is this man or woman a prayerful individual? Prayer is, in my opinion, the most under-utilized weapon in the hands of a Christian. Prayer plays a significant role in the life of the strong, committed Believer. 
  2. Is he or she a man or woman of the Word? Sitting at Jesus’ feet, learning from Him, is essential.
  3. A great teacher loves the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (emphasis mine)” (Proverbs 9:10).
  4. A great teacher loves students. Together with #3 above, this seems familiar, doesn’t it? (Matthew 22:36-40). Teachers follow in the footsteps of our Savior. They are under-shepherds, a true “high calling.”
  5. A great teacher loves the subject. One should be inspired by what one teaches, having a passion for it. If you don’t love what you’re teaching, how are you to inspire such a love in your students? Enthusiasm is contagious.
  6. Finally, a great teacher loves learning. If I could have just one wish fulfilled for my children as pertains to education, it is that they would love learning. If they love something, they’ll pursue it even when we’re not looking. When teachers love learning, that same love is “caught” by students. 

Great teaching leads to great minds. Great minds lead to great conversations. And great conversations lead to restoring culture. The better we train up our children to be Christ-like and to think with the brilliance that stems from a classical Christian education, the more profound an impact we’ll witness in this world. We should condition ourselves to expect the unexpected, be prepared to conduct ourselves with wisdom and grace, and effectively teach our children to be skillful and resolute.