[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
I am in the fourth week of teaching the Circle’s Manual for Teachers Reading Program, and every week is a “revelation” about what the Manual is really teaching––thanks to Robert and his comments, insights, and interpretations. I still find it amazing that I can have studied Course material who-knows-how-many times, and each time it seems to go in on a much deeper level.
One of the big realizations that is having quite an impact on me is that I am not in training as a teacher of the Course, but as a teacher of God! This is not merely a Manual for Teachers, but a Manual for Teachers of God! There’s so much meaning in those words, meaning that I feel I am just beginning to grasp fully. A teacher of God: a person who is teaching on God’s behalf, teaching what God wants all of His creations to learn. This person has made “an agreement with God” and has become “a bringer of salvation” (1:6-7). This is someone whom God trusts, and to whom He has entrusted His Word and His creations. Wow! This is both an honour and a responsibility, and definitely not something to be taken lightly or casually.
I have noted that the phrase “teacher of God” is often used quite freely among Course students. It sounds so nice. How often have I heard, “We’re all teachers of God”? Well no, we’re not. Just because we’re Course students and have been through the Text and the Workbook, it doesn’t automatically follow that we’re teachers of God. Yes, the Course does say that “a teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one” (M-1.1:1). However, we can’t just stop there and not take note of the next sentence, which sets us straight: “His qualifications consist solely in this: somehow, somewhere he made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else’s” (1:2).
Teaching the Manual is obliging me to go much deeper into the material than I ever had before and to take it more seriously. I find that I am not only reading it, but also studying it very carefully and really trying to take to heart what Jesus is saying. As I have been rereading the early sections, I have been asking myself, “Am I indeed a teacher of God? Do I have the proper qualifications? Do I really not see my interests as apart from someone else’s? Am I this person the Course is talking about?”
Sometimes–mostly in my teacher-pupil sessions and in the classes I teach–I believe that I do have the qualifications to be this person. Sometimes, the sense of “no separate interests” is revealed during a session and I truly feel that there is no difference between the person I’m with and myself. Just recently that happened in a very striking way and I was “blown away” with the power of our encounter. Other times, I can feel self-consciousness arising in the form of self-doubt and a sense of being separate from the person I’m with. I can believe in the oneness on an intellectual level, but it’s sometimes difficult to have a felt sense of it. It seems like such a tall order to consistently see my interests as completely one with another’s. However, each time I do, it increases my confidence that one day I will be there.
In last week’s class, we completed the section on “What Are the Characteristics of God’s Teachers.” As I prepared for that class, I did exercises on each of the characteristics, asking questions to gauge where I was with each one. I saw that, even though I have come a long way since the last time I did this, I still have such a long way to go. I also noticed how much easier it is for me to exhibit these characteristics with my students than with my loved ones. That’s where I really need to apply myself! On the day I was preparing to teach the class, I had to laugh at myself and at the irony of the situation, because it seemed as if I was knee-deep in the exact opposite of some of the characteristics–especially tolerance and patience! I’m glad that Jesus doesn’t expect me to have developed these characteristics fully in my beginning stages as a teacher of God–and that he has such patience with me!
As we discussed the characteristics in class and where we are with them, I was filled with such a strong desire to develop and acquire them, so that I can serve God fully and really be one of His faithful teachers. I want to be that truly good person the characteristics depict. So, I am determined to be more vigilant about where I am not exhibiting them and more diligent in developing them. Also, instead of just shelving this section and moving on to the next ones, I have decided to make the characteristics my practice over the next several weeks. My plan is to practice one a week, using quotes from the section, as well as from elsewhere in the Course. I don’t expect to have mastered them by the end of the ten weeks, but I really do want to apply myself to developing them, so that one day I will.
Today my idea for the day is “I trust the world” (M-4.I.1:4). That’s the main idea, to which I am adding other related thoughts from the rest of the paragraph and elsewhere:
I trust the world, because I have learned that it is not governed by the laws the world made up, but by the laws of God. It is governed by a Power That is in me but not of me. This Power keeps all things safe, and through it I look on a forgiven world.
I’m also using Robert’s “how to repeat” suggestions as part of my hourly remembrances. I’ll let you know how it goes.
How do you feel about being a teacher of God? What does it mean to you? Can you see yourself being this person? Are there particular characteristics you are working on? What are your experiences of not seeing your interests as apart from someone else’s?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and perhaps discussing this further.
With loving thoughts,