EMBRACING A BROADER VISION: Be Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself
It all started with a burden. Over the years I watched the day-in and day-out struggles that educators faced to make a difference. Optimism would often fade as the year dragged on, leaving so many feeling discouraged and depleted. This scenario weighed heavily on my heart, and so I prayed. What could I do? For years I would revisit this sequence, sensing I was supposed to do something, but then the feeling would fade. Life was so busy with work and family. It was easy at times to pretend the burden I felt for educators never really existed in the first place, but there was no shaking it. I had to do something, anything, and so Victorious Educator Ministries (VEM) began almost four years ago.
I’ve since learned this is often how Kingdom visions start. They begin with an unshakeable burden to come alongside God in His work here on earth. I was recently listening to a sermon by Dr. Tony Evans. He described Kingdom vision this way: God lets you see a need He wants to be part of meeting even though you do not know how it is going to get done.(1)
This is exactly how I felt then and, to be completely transparent and honest, how I sometimes feel today. Heaven knows we have issues in education. Teaching is getting harder and harder as the world chooses to turn away from God. Schools are only a reflection of what is happening in the culture. The need for Christian educators in our schools is at a crisis level. It would be easy to blame others (e.g., school board, government, parents). We could fixate on issues with the curriculum or district policies. However, deep down we all know the problems we face in our world today are a matter of the heart. People need the life-changing love of Jesus. None of us would argue with this truth, but the problems seem so massive we wonder if there is anything we can really do. Here is where we must adopt a broader vision to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
Would you agree with the following statements?
· Great needs exist in our schools.
· Students and adults around us are hurting.
· God has placed you in your current job.
· The power of the Holy Spirit lives in all Christ followers.
If you answered yes to these questions and you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, then you are part of God’s Kingdom vision. You may not know exactly how everything is going to play out, but you can trust in the fact that God wants to use you. What a privilege we have to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to introduce those around us to the saving grace and power of the cross. It is why we exist (John 17:20-21).
For me, the hardest part of this whole kingdom vision process is the “even though you don’t know how it is going to get done.” Most educators are task-driven people, so once we have a burden, we want to know the “do” part right away. I often catch myself trying to hatch a plan on my own, often bypassing a very important step. I was reminded of this in Dr. Evan’s sermon when he described the story of Nehemiah.
You might remember Nehemiah was the chief cup-bearer to the King of Persia. He held an important position, similar to an Assistant Superintendent in a school district. Nehemiah got word that the city of Jerusalem, his homeland, was in disarray. The walls had been destroyed, the gates had been burned, and the disgraced people were in danger. The Bible says Nehemiah wept and mourned for days. The burden was so heavy that he began fasting and praying, pleading with God for forgiveness, mercy, and provision (Nehemiah 1). Nehemiah didn’t go into rescue mode and create a plan to save his people. Instead, he went to his knees in a position of humility, knowing the burden was too great for him to bear alone.
It is so important to note that this posture went on for four months (Nehemiah 2). His burden did not go away, so Nehemiah continued to pray despite a longing to rescue his people. Four months is a long time to feel such sadness. Four months is a long time to plead for God to answer and not hear a response. Nevertheless, Nehemiah held onto hope. In his pleading, he claimed the promise God made to Moses:
Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.” Nehemiah 1:8-9
When it comes to VEM, it’s difficult for me to hold onto a Kingdom vision when progress is slow or when I don’t know the plan. There is so much I want to do, but I’m learning how important it is to start with prayer and, like Nehemiah, hold onto the promises in God’s Word. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
As a Christian educator, have you ever felt like there is more to your calling than simply teaching? Has God placed a specific burden on your heart? If so, don’t rush to fix it. Instead, stop and pray. Then wait. It is during the waiting we learn to seek God’s agenda, trust His timing, and depend on His ability to open and close doors according to His plan, not ours. As Nehemiah persevered in prayer, God opened a door and gave him an opportunity to be part of something greater than himself. Sometimes God opens a door for us, but we are too frightened to walk through it because we don’t know what is on the other side. When the king (an unbeliever) questioned Nehemiah about his countenance (the open door), the Bible says Nehemiah was terrified, but he walked through that open door anyway (Nehemiah 2)! I have to believe the prior four months of prayer gave him the courage to trust God in that moment no matter how scary it was!
Little did Nehemiah realize that this first step of faith would lead to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem in only 52 days, a feat only possible with God’s help (Nehemiah 6:17-18). I don’t want to sugarcoat it. Rebuilding the walls wasn’t an easy task. He not only faced his own fears but also endured numerous setbacks and opposition from the outside. Being part of God’s Kingdom vision here on earth may very likely be fraught with bouts of discouragement and hardship. In the end, however, God will provide the way because His plan always prevails (Proverbs 19:21). Our job is simply to take the first step of faith.
When I launched VEM almost four years ago, it was a step of faith. I want to share a little bit of the journey with you so you can celebrate all God has done. At the same time please consider embracing this vision with us. We are asking you to be part of something bigger than yourself.
Here is an abbreviated list of VEM’s accomplishments.
Website created (www.victoriouseducator.com)
Regular blog posts (https://www.victoriouseducator.com/blog)
Facebook group (from 1 to over 1000)
4 Social media presence (Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter)
Ignite event for educators
6.Resources—journal, devotions, reflection forms (https://www.victoriouseducator.com/resources)
Purposeful Partnership campaign to connect educators from different background (https://www.victoriouseducator.com/purposeful-partnerships)
Non-profit status received in February of 2022 (creation of by-laws)
Monthly prayer days
Monthly board meetings
Upcoming projects include, but are not limited to, those noted below.
A published book entitled Taking Jesus to School. This book will equip and empower educators to take Jesus to school every single day. We are excited to see what God is going to do!
Resources to assist groups of educators to form spiritual learning communities (SLC’s) or their own VEM Tribes within work settings.
Resources to help educators grow in spiritual maturity.
Events to gather educators together for support, encouragement, and learning.
Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign.
Our burden for Christian educators runs deep. We know how challenging teaching can be, and we know how important it is for each of us to grow stronger in our faith. Although this ministry is in the infancy stage, we believe and trust that God is at work preparing all of us to be part of something only He can do.
Here is where you come in. What burden has God placed on your heart that won’t go away? Stop and pray. Ask for God’s Kingdom vision to be made clear. Keep praying until the door of opportunity opens. If God has given you the burden we have for Christian educators, consider this blog an open door—an open invitation—for you to join us in the journey to equip and empower Christian educators to shine the light of Jesus one day at a time. Here is how you can get involved.
Tell your non-educator friends and family about VEM. Every new ministry needs funds in order to grow and provide support and resources. Encourage others to donate to this ministry anytime or on Giving Tuesday, November 28, 2023 (https://www.victoriouseducator.com/donate). We are officially a non-profit organization, and gifts are tax-deductible!
Write a blog for VEM and share your heart with other Christian educators (www.victoriouseducator.com/blog).
Form a VEM Tribe or Spiritual Learning Community (SLC) in your school to pray and support other believers. Tell us about it!
Utilize the resources we provide (www.victoriouseducator.com/resources) to grow in your walk with Christ.
This is just the beginning. Please consider being part of our broader vision by supporting and engaging with Victorious Educator Ministries. Each one of you has gifts and skills God wants to use to meet the needs that exist in our schools today. Partner with us and be part of something bigger than yourself! You are important to God’s kingdom vision! We love you and pledge to serve you for the glory of God alone!
1 “Your Kingdom Impact Can Make a Difference.” YouTube, uploaded by J. Minor, 25 October 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BZFOnCoNcw