Sometimes God uses the unexpected to reignite our passion and remind us of our calling.
This past week my husband and I decided to take a road trip for our vacation this summer. It seemed easier than flying. We are fans of the show Home Town on HGTV. We thought it would be fun to visit Laurel, Mississippi, as well as explore other parts of Mississippi. It was a relaxing week as we biked the Longleaf Trace trail, floated on the Pearl River, and toured historic areas. On our way back we chose to spend a day in Jackson, Mississippi. On the top of our list was a visit to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. This museum covers the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi by highlighting the strengths and sacrifices of its people.
There is much I could say about what I learned that day and how overwhelmed I was with the injustices I saw recorded over and over again. Being an educator, however, I was drawn to the details surrounding children and the impact events had on their future. It was shocking to learn that one of the major Civil Rights battlefields was education.
Staring into the eyes of children in the photographs stirred something in me. Their expressions communicated a desperate desire to be educated as they sat in barren rooms with subpar furniture and minimal resources. It broke my heart and reminded me of why I became an educator. I truly believe there is nothing more important in our secular world than education. For those of us who have always been afforded a quality education, it is difficult to understand how devastating it can be for others who have been denied the same.
Education is the gateway to opportunity and freedom for so many children. Without it, doors are closed, and dreams are unrealized. When you think about it, educators help students discover and realize what is possible. We help them dream. We give them hope. We really do! This quote by Trevor Noah reminds us how important our role is.
“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”
Education is also a tool of empowerment. Children are equipped through their educational experiences to become productive members of society, and this results in a whole list of personal benefits (e.g., economic growth, income potential, informed decision-making). A quality education means the difference between success and failure, wealth and poverty, contentment and disappointment. Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” We simply cannot ever underestimate the importance of an educated public. Be passionate about who you teach day in and day out. Passion makes a difference!
While academics are critical, as Christian educators we know there is so more that is taught to children in school. For example, we also teach love, forgiveness, acceptance, accountability, responsibility, and work ethic. I love this quote by Martin Luther King. “Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” I believe we demonstrate so much of this by how we interact with our students, how we encourage them, how we respond when they mess up, and how we challenge them to be their best. When we hold on to our passion, something special happens. Our passion becomes their passion!
I realize we are not always going to have the same feeling or excitement we did our first year; that is normal. I also realize it is challenging to stay passionate about teaching when there are so many struggles and barriers in our way. If this is true for you, I want to encourage you to let your passion for Christ Jesus drive your passion for teaching, for giving students hope, and for sparking their dreams. God chose each one of us to pour into the lives of those whom He has created – our students. The calling to teach is truly a privilege and a gift.
I know you know all of this. I did, too, but visiting the museum reignited my passion. Do you need to rekindle yours? Remember why you went into education. Hold on to your passion! You literally have no idea of the impact that you will and can have in a child’s life.
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Romans 12:9-12