PARTICIPATION AS A FACTOR IN CHRIST-LIKENESS
One other needful thing Jesus put into the character development mix was the active participation of His learners. We touched on this earlier when we noted discovery learning requires a learner to participate mentally in the learning process. In addition to using our brains, Jesus wants us to use what we discover and apply it to life – practice makes perfect.
Some “for instances” are in order. If we are to get the most out of our teaching opportunities, those opportunities need to be seen as part of a bigger whole. Since we are talking about character development, instruction alone is not enough. Christ-like maturity isn’t like memorizing state capitals for a History test. If teaching is to lead to character development, we need mental participation to make discoveries using the facts we have taken in, but we also need to apply and practice our discoveries (Heb. 5:14).
Notice how Jesus expected people to do something with what He taught them. Preceding the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus told the inquiring lawyer regarding the two greatest commandments, “…do this and you will live” (Lk. 10:28). After the story, He said, “Go and do the same” (Lk. 10:37). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke of the folly of merely saying “Lord, Lord” and of the wisdom involved when we both hear and do (Matt. 7:21-27). He pointedly asked why people would talk the talk without walking the walk (Matt. 23:3; Lk. 6:46). Jesus wanted action.
Therefore, it would seem we need to include “doing” in our teaching ministry. When children are involved we need partnerships with the home that will be something more than just grudgingly filling in the blanks of a workbook. We need real-world deeds to do. Families making commitments to be collectively involved in serving others would be a good way to address this need. Personal responsibilities for individual students, supported, facilitated, and encouraged by parents would also foster character development.
Similarly, adults could work with their mates, or with their Bible class, or with smaller groups, or in private life to put into practice what they are discovering or what they already know. The things we know factually come to be better understood and appreciated when we use our knowledge in practical ways (Heb. 5:14).
A congregational-wide commitment can also be developed with encouragement given to all members to participate (Eph. 4:16). We are, after all, a body – each of us has something to do as we work together as a family (I Cor. 12:12-27). Also, let us remember, Jesus is not a subscriber to the 80/20 principle where 80% of the work is done by 20% of the membership. If the Holy Spirit endorsed that minimalist concept, I Corinthians 12:12-27 would never have been written!
Our journey of discovery has covered a considerable distance. We have observed several vital truths. Jesus taught from within Himself to address effectively the real world He faced. In so doing, He most commonly used discovery-learning strategies to facilitate character development. In this, He not only wanted mental participation, He wanted people to practice what He preached. Education needs to honor these principles. With everything thus far presented in mind, we are ready for the vital missing ingredient – the secret to 100% success every time!