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  • Writer's pictureLarry Thompson

KINGDOM WORK. Bigger than Test Scores and Paychecks


Once again, it is that time of year when we stop and take a moment to show our appreciation for our teachers. I, like many others, want to thank each of you for all you do to support students. The thank you notes, e-mails, and goodies in the lounge are all appreciated as we make the push to finish the year strong. However, we know that what really keeps us going, year after year, is the belief that we are making a difference. Often this is referred to as our purpose.

 

When a person loses sight of his purpose, burnout hits. Even a much-needed and well-deserved pay raise will not suffice. As Victorious Educators, we must see our bigger purpose as an opportunity to do Kingdom work. We have a chance to model and show students the love and character of Christ. Jesus spoke of how important the children were in Mark 9:36-37.

 

He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

 

Your work with students matters because it is bigger than test scores and paychecks. Your work is for the Kingdom.

 

As a young 12-year-old, I attended a church camp in Missouri. My father was a pastor, and he helped at the camp when kids from our church were attending. One night some missionaries spoke. They lived in a remote area in Africa. They showed pictures and items from the people and places they worked and talked about how they led these people to the Lord. It was very moving and made most of us wonder what we would do for Christ in our lives.

 

Following the speakers’ presentation, they asked all the kids to pray and come forward if they would be willing to go anywhere for God. As I snuck a peek to see what others were doing, I noticed that only a handful of kids were still in their chairs as I was, and the rest of the nearly two hundred were upfront. I felt awkward and even slightly ashamed for not going up front. I just sat and waited for my friends to return.

 

When the week of camp was over, I rode home with my father. He asked me a few questions about what I enjoyed about camp. Then he said, “I noticed when they called kids up who were willing to go anywhere for God you stayed in your seat. What were your thoughts?” I responded, “Dad, I know that God would know if I’m lying, and I don’t think I could honestly say I would go to those places where those missionaries went.” My dad just smiled and said, “Well, your honesty is a good thing.” He then said something I have never forgotten. He said, “Son, if God wanted you to go to a remote place, He would change the desires of your heart, and no one would be able to keep you from going.”

 

I share this story because as Victorious Educators, we must remember that God placed desires within each of us to help children. God may not have called you to remote areas to do His work. Your mission field may be your own school or classroom. I work with many types of schools including private Christian schools. I believe the teachers in these schools are following the desires God put within their hearts. However, you may be like me. God placed me in public school settings.

 

Christians are called to model His love so that others may see and desire to have this same kind of love, grace, and joy in their own lives. John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” As Christian educators, we must demonstrate His love in school settings. Public schools will always reflect the public. This means all the sins of the world will be front and center in our schools. While I realize we must respect the guidelines of our schools and not “preach” to kids, we can model Christ to our class every day. We can also model Christ to our faculty and leaders every day. 


I have spent my life working to encourage teachers to show the love of Christ in the most challenging moments they face in schools—when dealing with challenging behaviors. The Bible does not teach us to show love, EXCEPT when we are angry, tired, or frustrated. Rather, it says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).


Many of our students have not attended church or are not in a family of Christ followers. Their first experience with Christians may be in your classroom or office. They should see that you are different by your actions and words, even though they may not understand why you are different. Jesus was often surrounded by those whom others discarded. Though they were sinners, they desired to be near Jesus. If we are to share Christ’s love, we must be imitators of Jesus so our students will desire to be near us, too.


I try to picture what it might look like if Jesus taught in our schools today. He was often called Rabbi (teacher). I believe kids would want to be near him. They would want to hang out in His room before or after school, stopping in to talk with Him. They would likely want to talk to Him in moments of defeat and sorrow. Let’s all picture Jesus in our school and do all we can to model his love, patience, and kindness to those who need it most—our students.


This school year is nearly gone. Again, thank you for all you have done this past year. I know you have given of yourselves sacrificially, and that does not go unnoticed. More than that, however, I thank you for accepting the call to do Kingdom work in our schools. Never forget that being an educator is so much more than bigger test scores and paychecks; it is a calling to love the children God has placed in our paths during our careers. What a tremendous privilege we have as Victorious Educators to serve children. You are making a difference in their lives. With a Kingdom purpose, sacrifices made will undoubtedly be worth it all.


Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!


 

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