Few occupations are as rewarding yet as challenging as teaching. Can a believer be consistent in the public schools of today? Are there ways of communicating the gospel to students without stepping over the line so carefully maintained by administrators?
The kids are rowdy, the parents don't care, your paperwork is piling up, and the semester is coming to an end. Your pay check may not salve your irritation at your choice of professions. Perhaps you wonder, "What's the use in being a teacher anyway?" Is it just a lousy job with some nice vacations or is it a vital vocation?
The Christian Teacher's Privilege:
The average child spends more than one third of his day at school. Many children spend more time with their teachers than with their parents. This is important since children are easily influenced. Jochebed carefully plotted to become Moses' nurse and nanny during the early years of his life. Even though he was eventually indoctrinated with the values and culture of Egypt, his mother's teaching never left him.
Human beings have a unique ability to learn. Yes, Rover can learn to sit and speak, but no creature can match our capacity to learn. God gave us minds that need to be educated for life and eternity. As a teacher, you are carrying out God's plan in the developing of minds. What a privilege to "see the light go on" and see this God given process of learning take place.
Two Old Testament words for "teaching" reflect key ideas. One word is used for shooting at a target like Jonathan did with his arrows (1 Sam 20:20). It conveys the need for discernment and skill. Students are moving targets. The teacher who can lodge his points in the minds of students has been a true success.
The other term has a root word meaning, "to build." Teachers help students build their thinking skills, abilities and value systems. Progress is slow but thrilling to see. Teachers shape the building blocks of future families, nations and maybe even assemblies. What a challenge, but, what potential!
The Christian Teacher's Pattern:
Role models are essential. Moses, Aaron, the Levites and priests, Ezra, Bezaleel and Aholiab, Peter, Paul and others were teachers. Although most of them were teaching spiritual truth, they are still excellent examples of how to communicate, instruct and influence children.
All examples of teaching in Scripture are only noteworthy in the measure they follow the ultimate pattern for teaching, God himself! Jewish rabbis have always believed that God was the master teacher who taught by Word and example (Psa 78:1). The Holy Spirit (John 16:13) and the Lord Jesus are also said to be teachers. Men referred to the Lord Jesus as "teacher" more than anything else. Heaven announced that Israel and all men should "Hear Him!" In the millennium, His people will be privilege to receive divine education from the Master Himself (Isa 54:13). Eternally, like Melchizedek did to Abraham, He will continue to reveal God to our hearts. He is the ultimate example of how to excel as a teacher.
The Priorities of the Teacher:
Teachers are inundated with lesson plans, grading and paper work. It is easy to be consumed with relaying knowledge to students. However, is your real purpose as a teacher just to have students know the dates of the Civil war, how to write a sentence or divide and multiply? Students must learn these basics. However, an effective educator uses his subject area to teach thinking skills and develop minds.
The Christian teacher has two nobler purposes. First, he should try to have a moral influence on his students. Through modeling Biblical convictions and discussing ethics and values, teachers can significantly influence students. Remember, most students have been brought up surrounded by immorality in their homes and have little spiritual teaching. You can teach auto mechanics, English, mathematics, science or a second grade geography and still work the lesson around to a discussion of right and wrong. Developing consciences is an important work.
Second, the greatest goal is to spread the gospel. Teaching provides many opportunities to witness for Christ. You can "live Christianity" and share the gospel with colleagues, parents and especially children. The media intimidates us with the constant barrage of "separation of church and state." However, most teachers can still have a Bible on their desks. Even if you are not allowed to "teach" the Bible, you can always answer questions from students. It takes creativity, but you can design lessons or talk about news events that will spawn questions about God and the Bible. When you are working individually with students, you can always tell them you will pray for them. If you have courage and keep this objective before you, teaching becomes even more important. Thank God, He called you to witness for Him in this unique mission field. If you could see even one student saved, your work would be worth it all!
Prerequisites of the Teacher:
Children and teenagers can sniff out hypocrites anywhere. The model of reality is the Lord Jesus. Luke wrote, "Of all that Jesus began both to DO and TO TEACH" (Acts 1:1). There was no disparity, only sincerity. What He preached, He practiced. A teacher who is Christlike will have great influence for God.