Have you ever heard of the 4 Cs? In education, the 4 Cs refer to 21st century learning skills including critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating and collaborating. In my role now, I have been thinking about how Jesus connects to the 4 Cs, and how they can connect to our work in the church and the world around us.
Jesus was a critical thinker
While he is often regarded as the Healer, the Messiah and the Redeemer, he was also a person who engaged his listeners and desired that they reach conclusions on their own. This was a strategic way for him to engage with his audience and have them dialogue with him about their learnings. The Gospels present many examples of how Jesus used his critical thinking skills, often through story, to inspire and teach his listeners. He was a true intellect!
Jesus was creative
His teaching, problem solving and mentoring skills consistently demonstrated outside-the-box, fascinating and forward-thinking strategies. “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable” (Matthew 13:34). Speaking in parables was not a normal nor familiar teaching strategy during his time, yet this method was highly creative.
Jesus was a communicator
He did not stick to one form of messaging; he varied his words and his ways to deliver them. In addition to asking questions, telling stories and parables, he was also regarded as a person who spoke the truth. Think of Jesus’ response to the woman at the well, or his words in Luke 18:17, when he says: “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Jesus was also not afraid to be quiet or ponder the thoughts of others. This is evident in Matthew 27 when Jesus was questioned by the priests, elders and Pilate; he sat in silence and chose to say nothing. Clearly, Jesus’s varied forms of communication drew people in!
Jesus was a collaborator
His most consistent team of collaborators were his disciples, who went everywhere with him. Jesus was intentional about spending time with them, and was committed to listening and learning from them. As Jesus’s life evolved, he nurtured his relationships with others as well. “He invites those with heavy burdens to come and receive rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus figured out early on that significant work can be accomplished when people work together. His collaboration with his disciples positioned them to become the primary teachers of the Gospel message of Jesus: to proclaim the Good News.
Indeed Jesus would be an exceptional 21st-century teacher. May Jesus inspire us all to think critically, be creative, communicate and collaborate.
Ann L. Schultz is Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s executive team leader.