THE GIFT OF YOU
As I thought about my next blog topic, I asked God to give me a message of encouragement for Christian educators. I truly believe our schools are a mission field. People need to see examples of love, forgiveness, peace, and joy that can only come from knowing Jesus. I decided to begin by sharing an example of how I personally experienced this type of Godly teacher during my years as a student.
I thought and thought, recounting all my teachers from kindergarten through college. While I benefited from many proficient and committed educators, I could not think of one that made me feel special (don’t feel sorry for me). Teachers during my school years were seen as authority figures to be unconditionally obeyed and respected. Teacher-student relationships was not part of the equation. I am sure many of my teachers cared about me, but I honestly could not recall one that exhibited the characteristics I am advocating.
There are many who think we need to return to the “good old days”, but I would suggest otherwise. I want to encourage you to see your role as an opportunity to not just teach but also to touch the hearts of those you teach. When your students look back over their schooling experiences, I want them to remember you, thanking God for the gift you are. We can be a gift to our students in so many ways. Let’s take a look at three recommendations from God’s Word.
1. LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY
Jesus told his disciples in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Do your students know…
· you love them?
· you care for them?
· you want what is best for them?
· you have high expectations for them?
The type of love Jesus is talking about isn’t a conditional love that is often fleeting. It is agape love, a selfless love that only comes from His Holy Spirit within us. It is the love that we as believers get to experience every single day! I realize there are days when this is not easy, but imagine how our schools and classrooms would be changed if every single Christian educator chose to love students as Jesus loves us. Give your students a gift today—the gift of agape love.
2. SERVE SELFLESSLY
Teaching is definitely a service profession; as such, it is ripe with opportunities to serve selflessly. During Jesus’ short ministry here on earth, He always put others ahead of himself in obedience to the call God had placed on Him. He was often exhausted, but it never deterred Him. A couple of examples come to mind.
In John 4, Jesus and his disciples had to travel through Samaria. They came across Jacob’s well where Jesus stayed while his disciples went into the village to get food. John 4:6 tells us, “…and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.” Jesus was tired. Jesus was weary. He had every excuse to retreat into his own world and ignore everyone around him, but He didn’t. Jesus didn’t think twice about speaking and witnessing to the Samaritan woman. He knew the best gift He could give her was to put aside his own personal comfort (and potential prejudices) and introduce her to the gift of eternal life.
Jesus also gave us another clear picture of selfless serving in John 13. Jesus knew that his hour had come and He would soon return to his Father. It was time for supper, and Jesus began to wash the disciples’ feet. God, in the flesh, washed the feet of His disciples—take that in. Why would He do this? He wanted to show us what it truly meant to serve.
After washing their feet, He put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”
The type of service expressed in John 13 is more a reflection of our heart not our job. In our hearts we must remember why we are here, and that is to serve. We are not better than our students. We have been purposefully placed in their lives to show them who Jesus is. Give your students a gift today—the gift of selfless service.
3. WORK HARD
We were created to work. In the beginning, “The Lord placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15). If you are still here, God has work for you to do. He has work for me to do. We can’t be slackers. Our work ethic should reflect Him and His glory. Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Colossians 3:23).
When our students think of us, they should think of us as hard workers. Trust me, they notice. I can remember a conversation I had with my oldest daughter many years ago. She was a teenager at the time, and we had gone on a long mother-daughter walk. We were discussing various topics which often included school. She made a comment to me about a particular teacher stating, “Well, she doesn’t really care about us.” I asked her why she would think such a thing, and she gave me a laundry list of reasons—all pointing to laziness. I didn’t tell her at the time, but I silently agreed with her.
How we work speaks volumes. Remember, God has uniquely positioned us where we are to positively impact the lives of those around. This should motivate and encourage us! Give your students a gift today—the gift of working hard.
One last caveat. I realize we can’t be all things to all people. Instead of focusing on what we can’t do, let’s focus on what we can do. We can love unconditionally, serve unselfishly, and work hard.
Give your students a gift today—the GIFT OF YOU!