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Learning best through love

Pastoral Messages | August 8, 2019

Online learning offers amazing opportunities in our time. Yet there’s one thing which learning over a screen never seems to be able to fully accommodate – namely, the emotional relationship or bond that develops between a teacher and student who regularly share the same space. If a bond of love is present, learning expands exponentially.

Mrs. Rainier (it wasn’t “Ms.” in those days) was my favorite grade school teacher (it wasn’t “elementary school” back then either). I don’t know if third grade was simply the year when schooling “clicked” for me, or if Mrs. Rainier was simply that good. All I know is that I had a crush on her. I loved her. Her coal black hair, cut as a smart short Bob, matched my idea of smart. She was tall and dressed in classy, black pumps, shoes that no self-respecting teacher I know of would bother with in a third grade classroom today. I can still hear her laugh, see how she disciplined with her eyes, and feel her encouragement.

When my parents would invite our teachers to dinner at our house once a year, we kids would hide out of view on the second floor landing. We’d poke our heads through the stair rail posts in order to eavesdrop on the adult conversation below. I think I wanted to know if Mrs. Rainier loved me as much as I loved her. To hear such a sentiment spoken would cause any nine-year-old to shiver.

In my early years of ministry, I thought teaching was mostly about delivering knowledge and insight to other heads. The passion or dispassion in the room didn’t matter as much as the critical transfer of vital information meant for other peoples’ cranial cavity. I assigned little emotional value to the teaching or the learning.

But then, I began to mature. I started to recognize that I learn the most from teachers whom I actually love(d). Isn’t this true for you too? Never mind the IQ or schooling a teacher may bring to a setting. It’s the relational bond that matters most. Oftentimes we navigate complex subjects by having our social brains connect and synchronize well with our teachers’ social brains. The way they process excitement, curiosity, confusion, worry, and delight affects the way their students do.

We learn best from people whom we love. Parents who want to teach their children something that their kids will eagerly retain eventually discover that they achieve the best results when they do it through and with love. Such is the truth for families, congregations, and for our lives in general. Think about all those whom you have loved, and learned well from as a consequence. And then, be that love for others who are eager to learn from you.

-Pastor Peter W. Marty

4 Comments on “Learning best through love”

  • Jerry Zavitz

    August 9, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    As a teacher your words really hit home. Teaching Love and with Love is the basis of good teaching.

  • Sheila Mesick

    August 8, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    These words will hold true through time, the message is true and timeless.

  • Anke Maass

    August 8, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    This is soooo true
    My aunt taught German to my friends I after to school just because…ok she loved me and in turn my friends. It has been mentioned in years past how much they loved those afternoons. One girl even learned to sing Stille Nacht and made more than one German tear up!

  • Stella Herzig

    August 8, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    So true!!!! ????????

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Malachi 3:1-4

The Coming Messenger 3 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.[a] 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Hebrews 2:14-18

14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters[a] in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Luke 2:22-40

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple 22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[a] this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.[b] 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[c] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon[d] took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant[e] in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36 There was also a prophet, Anna[g] the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[h] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. The Return to Nazareth 39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.