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Semper Informanda: Prolegomenon
After teaching eight years on the college level and more than twenty-seven years on the seminary level, I have asked myself "What are my objectives in being a professor?" I reflected on my relationship to the Lord, my task of teaching, and my being a model to my students. I wish to pursue these three topics and begin with my relationship with the Lord. This is the most important one, because the question is whether the students see the Lord Jesus Christ in me. Do I reflect his virtues?
1. Relationship. The Lord who called me to a teaching career is my Sender and from him I receive my orders. This being so, I must walk in Jesus' footsteps day by day and hour by hour. To walk with him implies that I talk with him much the same as Enoch walked and talked with God. That is, I involve the Lord in all my activities and my life is one of continual prayer. He is my companion in whom I put my trust. I must honestly confess that my downfalls have occurred when I failed to pray, relied on my own strength, and did not put my faith in him.
Next, if I want to be a servant of Christ, I must know his revelation. I must involve myself in the Word, so that it becomes a living part of me. Matthew portrays Jesus walking the countryside of Israel with a scroll of the Old Testament in his hand. Jesus was constantly teaching and preaching God's Word. I too must know the Scriptures inside out, and so like my Master make the Word known.
Third, I must adapt myself to those who listen to me, that is, I must learn to understand the circumstances and backgrounds of my students. Jesus addressed people from all walks of life and brought the Word effectively to all. He expects no less from me, for I must become more like the Master.
And last, in my relations with the people around me, to use the words of Paul, my feet must be shod with the gospel of peace. Wherever the Lord places me, there I must be an ambassador of peace. As much as it depends on me, I am obliged to live in peace with everyone. That does not mean that I acquiesce when biblical principles are violated; rather, I must try to turn my adversaries into friends so that they may come to know Jesus.
2. Teaching. Some of the copies of the Scriptures have the words Holy Bible on their cover. This means that I receive this holy Word from God and must have great respect for it. I inductively accept God's Word in faith and instruct my students to revere his revelation. I am not encouraging bibliolatry but I am asking them to subject themseves with me to the teaching of that Word which God has entrusted to us.
I seek to instill within my students a desire to know the Scriptures, to be able to read them on Hebrew and Greek, and to see God's purposes in the redemptive-historical progress of revelation. It is my motive to have them know not only where to find God's truth in his Word, but also to show ability in explaining the text grammatically, to appreciate its historical or geographical context, and to see its theological place in the development of the Scriptures.
In explaining the Word to my students, I want them to know Jesus, to love God the Father, and to long for the filling of the Holy Spirit. By so teaching them, it is my prayer that as they go forth as true ambassadors of the Lord they may instruct the people accordingly.
3. Model. What virtues would I like to impart to my students? Among others, there are three that stand out: faithfulness, discipline, and honesty. I want my students to be faithful in their commitments to the Lord as I endeavor to be faithful to them. When Jesus calls them to a variety of tasks in the ministry he desires nothing less than unqualified commitment and unfailing responsibility.
Discipline is self-motivation in setting goals, achieving objectives, and completing tasks on time. I try to stick to schedules, complete the course material, and return student tests and term papers as soon as possible-preferably in the semester during which they were written.
I have learned to be honest and own up to the mistakes I have made. Yes, a simple "I am sorry" spoken from the heart is nothing but honesty.
Dr. Simon J. Kistemaker
Professor of New Testament, Emeritus
Orlando Semper Informanda | Volume 6 Issue 12