Stop Telling and Start Teaching.


Have you ever had that situation that keeps happening over and over and over and it just frustrates the crap out of you because someone just "doesn't get it"? Like when your kid won't shut the back door when they go outside? Or they won’t turn off the lights when they leave a room? (Wow when did I turn into my dad?) Or your spouse fails to load the dishwasher…again? Or that person at work continues to fail to do that thing you have told them to do at least a dozen times?

Is it possible that you're telling, not teaching? Telling gives information, teaching brings understanding.

Here is the reality, weak leadership tells people. Strong leadership teaches people. Or let me put it this way - lazy leaders tell, and invested leaders teach. It takes a few seconds to tell someone what to do. It could take weeks to teach someone how or why to do it. How much are you willing to invest? What I am realizing in life is that I can be an invested leader at my job, but a lazy leader at home.  I can spend hours teaching a staff member how or why we do something, but then go home and simply yell at my kids to stop yelling at each other.

You can probably come up with a list a mile long of the things you have told people to do over the past year. A list of really great and meaningful things, that in reality would be beneficial for them to do.   But if you have stopped short of teaching and only left things at telling, is it possible that they have never really understood the weight or ownership behind that specific task or item? Teaching helps transfer ownership from one person to another.

If you have kids you know that telling isn't teaching. And you know that teaching once isn't teaching at all.  It is a built in process of patience and investment. But its worth it.  There's an example to be repeated. There's walking them to the door, showing them to shut the door, showing them the thermostat, then the electric bill, then showing them where the monster lives in the closet because you let them in, then you even show them how their stuff gets stolen ... all if they don't shut the door. (Monster part go too far?) “Shut the back door" just doesn't cut it, does it?

This isn’t just a good leadership idea, it is also biblical. You can find it all through scripture. Jesus was the greatest teacher of all time.  He modeled something for us. It is the exact definition of discipleship… Not telling people what you know, but teaching them how to go!
Do me a favor and go check out the book of Titus in the Bible. More specifically chapter 2.  It has some great visuals and language in there. See how many times it uses the word "teach." And other great emphasis like "urge" and "encourage."  These are all active and engaging words, not just empty syllables.
And verse 7 is my favorite: "In everything set them an example by doing ...."