Weekly bulletin article by Mike Johnson

Instruction takes place both intentionally and unintentionally. Intentional teaching is obvious. It happens when someone plans a lesson to teach, a venue to teach it, and a method to teach it. Those who are present have usually been informed that the event was designed to teach intentionally.

Intentional teaching does not expect that those who are taught will either understand or accept the teaching. Rather, intentional teaching has only one expectation—the giving of information. To the degree that the material has been transmitted to the ears of the hearers, to that degree the instructor has accomplished the main objective.

Unintentional teaching is quite different. Body language is unintentional teaching. Through body movements, voice tone, eye contact (or lack thereof) many lessons are taught or, at least, others interpret these things in informative ways. This is why you might hear or even have said, “I did not mean for you to get that impression!” That instructive message was sent unintentionally.

There are probably many ways that we teach unintentionally. When Timothy’s mother and grandmother were teaching him, they probably did not imagine the teaching that others would receive for centuries from their actions (II Timothy 1:5). This was positive, unintentional teaching.

There are at least two ways that we might teach unintentionally giving a negative message. Jesus said, “…every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36) And, Paul wrote in Romans 14:16, “Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil…” These unintentional messages caused some measure of harm. We need to be careful of our unintentional messages.