John Wooden believed that all effective teachers need a good hat rack, one with plenty of hooks. Wooden wrote that, “I eventually became adept at wearing many different hats: teacher, of course, but also disciplinarian, demonstrator, counselor, role model, psychologist, motivator, timekeeper, quality control expert, talent judge, referee, organizer, and more… In the process you’ll wear many hats, and they must all fit. Unfortunately, when I began my career I had one whistle and one hat. While that’s enough whistles, it’s not enough hats.”
Every Christian serves as a teacher in one capacity or another. If we want to be effective teachers, we would be wise to invest in Wooden’s hat rack. His illustration brings to mind a teaching given by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19 – 22,
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law … that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law… that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
Paul’s hat rack had many hooks. He was able to relate to people of all different backgrounds (from various races, socioeconomic levels, and cultures) in order to share the gospel with them. If we hope to influence the people around us for Christ, we’re going to need to be able to find a way to relate to them. We need to be able to pull the proper hat off the rack in the proper context, all the while remembering that every hat we wear must be imprinted with the truth of the gospel without compromise.