See One. Do One. Teach One.
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7
In my medical training, I became familiar with the phrase: See one. Do one. Teach one. This expressed the concept that procedural skills – like intubating a patient or performing a lumbar puncture – are passed down from generation to generation. Though the phrase may be a little oversimplified, the idea stands. If I don’t know how to do a thing, I must learn from those who do. Next, I must become proficient at it myself. Then, just as I have been taught, I have a responsibility to teach others. If any links in the chain refuse to do their part, the chain is broken, and the knowledge or skill is lost to the next generation.
I learned something similar in Alcoholics Anonymous, where I was told I must look to the wisdom of those who had more clean time than me. They possessed a wealth of knowledge and experience which they were willing to pass down, so that I too, may one day have years of sobriety. In finding recovery, I wasn’t meant to keep it for myself though. I was told I needed to give it to others, helping them along as I had been helped. Authentic recovery, by definition, involves sharing it, and if any links in the chain refuse to do their part, the chain is broken.
Paul expressed a similar concept in today’s passage. In it, he reminded his audience how they had once imitated him. First, Paul followed Christ. Then, he showed the Thessalonians how to do it. They practiced faith, and in turn, they passed that on, becoming examples to those around them. Had any links in that chain refused to do their part . . . you get the idea.
This is God’s intended pattern. We must learn from those who are spiritually further along than we are. Then, we must put into practice that which we have learned. In doing so, we must then pass our knowledge, wisdom, and experience on to others. As we have been given, so we must give. Authentic faith, by definition, involves sharing it with others. Often we feel that our faith is something very personal, by which we mean we’re not comfortable talking about it with anyone. If our faith means anything to us though, then it’s selfish to not share it with those around us. As we have been loved and as we have learned faith, so too, we must love and share our faith with those in need.