Before a teacher left his village on a long trip he entrusted his two best apprentices with the responsibility of insuring that progress in education continued in the small community. The village had rudimentary needs, and there was much work to be done in the teacher’s absence.
The first apprentice was meticulous in his lesson preparations and in doing things exactly as the teacher did them. Rules were strictly enforced. Lesson books were carefully followed. Lunch was always served at exactly the same hour. The apprentice left for the day precisely 10 minutes after the students left. He was keenly aware of the exact obligations of the job.
The school lacked an adequate school-house so the apprentice set out to design a building, purchase property, and hire builders. The apprentice called attention to what he was doing whenever he had an opportunity. The villagers praised his work and gave him according honor. He felt important.
Away from the school the apprentice acted differently, often ordering villagers around. “Do this. Do that.” He even helped himself to fruits from the street vendor’s cart – without paying. What was said about him at school was very different from what was said in the town. One glowing praise, the other under-the-breath criticism.
“I hope the teacher is further delayed, he thought. “I could get used to the benefits of this job.”
The second apprentice was generous and hardworking. He arrived for the day’s teaching at an early hour so that he could be well prepared and welcome the students as they arrived to be taught. At the end of the day he would linger at the school in order to answer questions and tutor students with questions about the lessons of the day.
He loved teaching and even shared his lessons with villagers when they inquired. Whenever a village group asked him to come to one of their gatherings, he gladly accepted and would use the opportunity to teach and share. It was not uncommon for him to get home after dark.
The apprentice often thought about his teacher and missed the instruction. He always allotted time in his day for reviewing the teacher’s lessons. He hoped that the teacher would be satisfied with the work that he was doing in his absence. The apprentice worked very hard to emulate the character of the teacher.
When the teacher returned from his trip, he scheduled a meeting with his two apprentices. “Tell me how your work went during my absence,” he inquired.
The first apprentice said, “I kept all your rules and I’m ready to have my school.” And the teacher said, “You have only begun to understand the demands of teaching. You must go back to school and learn how to be a good apprentice first.”
The second apprentice said, “Teacher, I am so glad you have returned. I have watched the way that you care about your students and how you sacrifice your convenience and ambitions for others. I want to be like you.”
Jesus said, “A disciple (apprentice) is not above the teacher…It is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher,” Matthew 10:24,25.