Confession: Indirect and direct objects never made sense to me. This is not spicy information except that I’m writer, a former writing teacher, and a former writing curriculum writer. (Whew.) The point of all those inbred terms is this: based on my skill set, indirect and direct options should have made sense, but they didn’t.
(Don’t worry — this is not a post about grammar. I wouldn’t do that to you. I also wouldn’t do that to me.)
I suppose I could have asked for extra help from one of the many teachers who taught indirect/direct objects to me, but I didn’t care that much, and it didn’t seem to matter much. I also have this problem in which I don’t pay attention to things that aren’t interesting to me (I’m working on it), and it’s hard to ask for help when the truth is that you just couldn’t bring yourself to pay attention, and worse, you suspect you’ll zone out again the second the teacher starts answering your question. Man, I’m a gem.
Instead of getting help, I developed a skill for conquering worksheets I didn’t understand, somehow made As in every English class, got a journalism degree, and then got a master’s degree in English Education for grades 7-12. Why am I tastelessly giving you my resume when you never asked for it? Because I need you to know that after all of these things, I still didn’t understand indirect and direct objects. Even when I forced everyone to call me “Master Caroline” after getting that second fancy piece of paper, I’d sidestepped a fairly basic part of sentence structure. No teacher had been able to sneak that information in my brain in a way that it didn’t immediately spit it out, I’d never asked for help, and I’d never taken the time to teach it to myself. All I knew is I loved writing, found it incredibly exciting, and didn’t want to spend too much time on the boring parts when there was such fun to be had.
But finally, one classroom made all the difference — mine. Once I had to teach indirect/direct objects, it was clear that my worksheet-weaseling couldn’t cut it. Sidestepping is not as easy when all the eyes are one you. You can’t zone out when you’re the one standing in front of the classroom.
That first year of teaching, I learned a thing that had never mattered to me because the responsibility to teach makes things matter. Having to teach a thing carries major motivation and meaning for learning a thing. And because I had that firsthand experience as a student who didn’t care, didn’t understand, and didn’t ask questions, I was especially motivated to meet my students in that place. As a teacher who was finally forced to learn, I realized something: God designed our brains to be able to learn best when we’re teaching.
“DISCIPLESHIP MATTERS TO GOD BECAUSE IT’S WHAT HE USES TO SHAPE THE STUDENT AND THE TEACHER INTO HIS LIKENESS.”
When it comes to spiritual maturity, discipleship is an integral part of the way we ourselves will grow. Because of this, when someone we’ve taught thanks us, we don’t haughtily reply, “Oh, you’re welcome!” Instead we genuinely reply, “No, thank you. I have learned so much!” Because of the way we’re created, the best students are teachers.
Whatever your educational experience, God calls you to teach. If you need convincing, the “2Ts” in scripture especially confirm this: Titus 2 and 2 Timothy 2:2 (“‘And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.’”).
And of course, there are Jesus’s last words: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, emphasis added). Movie characters shape their entire lives around a loved one’s last words, and we should, too. Simply put, verse 20 says that Jesus’s disciples were to teach what they’d learned from him. That’s good news, because it means that before we are teachers, we are students. And moreover, our Teacher is always with us! We don’t walk into our role alone.
There are lots of ways to teach, but if you’re looking for a simple place to start, choose a book of the Bible you’re familiar with, and ask someone a little bit behind you in life to learn it with you. If you want some structure and help, I got you, but I also believe that God’s Word and the Holy Spirit in you means you are wholly equipped.
And in case you were wondering how I now feel about indirect/direct objects, I still don’t really care about them. But sometimes they sneak up on me drenched with value, and I can barely breathe. Consider Psalm 139:1: “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” The italicized words are transitive verbs, meaning something receives the action (direct object). The direct objects make this verse so tender and personal, because it’s clear that God doesn’t just search and know — he searches me; he knows me. We are the direct recipient of the Lord’s actions, and oh, how grateful I am for this.
Friend, the Lord has searched you and known you — he knows when you sit down and when you rise up. He’s acquainted with all your ways. And even still, despite seeing every nook and cranny of your soul, through the shed blood of his Son, he has offered you a place in his family, an overwhelming inheritance, a opportunity for forever belonging, and a chance to participate in the growing of his family as an esteemed teacher of sacred things. Truly, this is glorious work that we get to do.