Teach, counsel, and instruct - these all seem like very similar words, don't they? Yet, scripture calls them out as 'uniquely different'. One thing remains consistent between all three, though, and that is the use of 'wisdom' as the governing agent over all three! Whether teaching or instructing - it is to be done with wisdom. When giving counsel, it is to be governed with the wisdom that comes from God richly inhabiting our lives. Ever try to give counsel that you didn't first check with God about when giving it? I have and let me just tell you that it didn't always work out as well as I would have hoped! We need the guidance of the Word of God in our lives, but we also need to remember we need his Spirit to richly inhabit our lives, giving us that 'access' to all wisdom whenever we need it!
To teach, one is imparting some form of knowledge, much as a tutor would do when you are needing some 'specialized attention' to learn a certain subject or skill. I am learning some woodworking, so I explore all kinds of woodworking sites to learn the skills, but nothing makes as great of an impact in my 'skill' as when my son comes over and shows me how to use the tool I need to use. There is something about being 'tutored' through the process that makes it easier to grasp the concept of how the device is accurately and safely used. What does the tutor possess? Practical knowledge or familiarity with what is being taught - they understand and have mastered the skill or subject well enough to help us understand what is being taught. Teaching requires wisdom - the knowledge of what is both true and right, coupled with the 'good judgment' to consistently produce the same results. When I needed to learn how to make pocket holes, my son gave me some very practical advice on how to determine the depth and placement of the holes. What a difference it made to have his tutelage in consistently getting the 'right' results each time.
To instruct is just a little different because instruction is more of a step-by-step, very ordered process of learning. Teaching is more of an imparting of practical knowledge, while instruction is that idea of 'line upon line, precept upon precept' kind of education. Wisdom is critical in outlining the steps because one missed step makes for some pretty lousy outcomes. I have left important ingredients out of something I was making only to discover the biscuits didn't rise, the taste was way off from what it should have been, or something didn't set-up as it should have. I have applied wood glue, allowed something to set for a while and come back to the project to realize I have glued it together backward! Try to get that apart now! Nope - isn't happening! What happened is really quite simple - I didn't pay attention to the pattern - the step-by-step instructions that should have helped me avoid that mistake. In life, we make all kinds of 'missed steps', probably because we don't pay close enough attention to the wisdom laid out for us in those 'step-by-step' instructions we receive!
To counsel requires wisdom to the ultimate degree. Why? People are looking to you for some assistance with a dilemma or need. The most common form of counsel comes in the form of advice. Have you ever received or given some pretty lousy advice? I know I have and let me assure you that not all advice is 'right' for us to receive or embrace! This is why we need to let wisdom guide our counsel - given at the right time, in the right manner, with the right 'advice' provided. Equally as important is that we each exercise great wisdom in what it is we allow ourselves to RECEIVE in the way of 'advice' or 'opinion'. Remember, just because someone reports to you that they hold a degree, are licensed to do something, or have completed some course of study doesn't mean that they are 'wise' in the advice they offer! Just sayin!
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