In his book on leadership, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters (Bethany House, 2012), Al Mohler, who is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has an excellent chapter entitled, “Leaders as Teachers.” Here he argues that true leaders are by nature teachers, and they “teach by word, example, and sheer force of passion.” Those they lead, he says, should be active learners and the organizations they lead should be “learning organizations.”
My favorite part of this chapter is where he uses Augustine to argue that it is love, that highest of virtues, that is at the core of teaching and which drives the true teacher. Augustine, he writes, taught that “there is really only one worthy motivation to teach, and that is love.”
Love, continues Mohler, runs through teaching in three ways:
1. “The teacher loves who he will teach. The teacher is not only imparting knowledge but also giving a gift, and the motivation for that gift is not any gain for the teacher but that the student will benefit from the knowledge.”
2. “The teacher must love what he teaches…The best teachers are those who simply can’t wait to teach something they truly love.”
3. “We teach because we first love Christ, who first loved us. While he was most concerned for those who would lead churches, Augustine’s point extends to every arena of leadership. Wherever the Christian leader leads, he must do so out of the love of Christ.”
In On Old Age, under the section titled “Consolations for Lost Strength,” Cicero extolls the act of teaching, saying that the wise, aged person can teach those younger than he – and in this find great satisfaction and happiness. This is an excellent message, which encourages one to, rather than turn into the self and pity his state, turn outward and benefit others through imparting wisdom and knowledge from a lifetime of experience:
“At the very least we must concede age the capacity to teach and train young men and fit them for jobs of every kind; and no function could possibly be more honorable than that…However infirm with age a man has become, if he is imparting to others a liberal education he cannot fail to be accounted happy” (224).