In your teaching, show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned … Titus 2:7b-8a
I had not seen this young leader in almost a year and the difference in 12 months was remarkable. In times past, I could see the obvious talent and the potential for influence, but the big difference was in the weight of his words. He spoke and lead with authority and the congregation was listening, leaning in and following him.
His words carried a serious and sound tone that resonated from a deep place he had discovered somewhere along the way. I was proud of him and I told him so. That is no easy accomplishment. Similar things were said about Jesus after he spoke the Sermon on the Mount. The crowds were amazed because he spoke with authority (Matthew 7:28-29).
We can suppose this happening for Jesus, but how does it happen in us? What is it that calls us out of adolescence and into deeper waters? I do not want to melt this down into some overly simplistic list of actions, but I do believe the scripture from Titus that I quoted above gives some insights into the process.
There must be integrity in our study and teaching. We should only teach what we have truly learned and practiced. I agree that we can teach things we have not perfected, but we can only give away what we have acquired. If we are not generous, our teaching on giving will fall flat. If we are not loving our own spouses, speaking on marriage is a waste of our time. Private devotion always precedes public promotion, especially with teaching the scriptures.
Serious study leads to serious teaching. I believe we should not only read our favorite commentaries but we should also read some challenging viewpoints from other tribes of scholars. If we cannot listen to honest debate and then defend our position, maybe we should pause our teaching until we are really believing. Find some teachers who are more conservative or liberal than you and get to know them. Try hard to understand their differing viewpoints. I promise it will only make your messages more clear and less combative.
3. Soundness of speech
The language we use to speak does not just happen accidentally. Our words are formed in us either purposely or haphazardly. Readers become better writers and writers produce better speakers. We must learn to read not just for information, but as students of “how” they communicate. That is one reason any serious speaker must learn to appreciate the storytelling of the classic novelists. The way details are woven through the fabric of a story will only help our own writing skills which then shapes our own storytelling. Reading to write and writing to speak takes discipline and time, but in the end, it gives our words weight.