By Roy W. Lowrie, Jr., Ed.D. (1980)
A Keynote to the Christian School Teacher
I have a growing appreciation for the Word of God and for the way the Holy Spirit makes words written years ago relevant to our lives today. To illustrate, consider what Paul wrote regarding Archippus in Colossians 4:17, “And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” These words can be applied to us teachers in clear ways.
Archippus is not a major biblical character, but he had a ministry. That encourages me for it says that we do not have to be prominent as Abraham, Moses, David or Paul to have a ministry. God gave Archippus a ministry, and God has given us a ministry for Him in Christian education. Our teaching is not a job. It is a ministry.
Paul told Archippus to pay attention to his ministry and to be sure to fulfill it. Similarly, we must take heed and be certain to fulfill our individual teaching ministry in the Christian school where God has placed us.
Our effectiveness in teaching is related to our response to God’s chastening in our own lives. Chastening includes His instruction as well as His discipline and is the heritage of every believer. According to Hebrews 12 we can respond to His chastening in several ways. We can despise it, that is, brush it off as insignificant. Esau pictures this in his attitude toward his birthright. He counted it a small thing. Another response to chastening is to faint under it. That is a picture of leaving, of quitting, Demas illustrates this. At first he was profitable to the ministry, but then he left having loved this present world. A third response is to endure God’s chastening. Paul models this for us as he was steadfast in God’s work no matter what hardships came along. The fourth response is to be exercised by God’s chastening. David typifies this, and God says that David was a man after His own heart. It is a wondrous thing to be taught by God while we are teaching others. Our students need to know that God is working in us as well as in them.
Our effectiveness in our teaching is also related to our professional education. Teaching is not easy and it takes continuous professional development to become proficient and to maintain a high standard of proficiency. I earnestly believe that no student should have to take an academic penalty to get a Christian education. We are Christian and we are also schools.
We must take seriously our responsibility to be competent, growing teachers. It is sobering to realize that the quality of our teaching will affect the next 60-70 years of a child’s life, if the Lord tarries and if that child lives to old age.We must strive to be excellent.
Graduate work is a natural part of honing our teaching. If you do not have your masters degree, determine to earn it within the next five years. That is a reasonable limit. It can be done in less time. The clues to earning a graduate degree are perseverance and patience. Each year you must be taking courses. Be patient, stick to it, and it can be done. It will be a sacrifice, there’s no question about that, but it is worth it. You can not wait for a perfect time to do this, for it will never come. Simply put, there is no convenient time to earn advanced degrees. It is always inconvenient.
Our effectiveness in our teaching is related to our commitment to Christian education. There is a marked difference between the teacher who is “trying out” teaching in a Christian school and the teacher who is convinced in his heart that God has asked him to serve Him in a Christian school.
Strong Christian schools grow where there are teachers giving their lives to that school. They are the grains of wheat falling into the ground and dying for the Lord’s sake-a day at a time in the classroom. Teaching is not glamorous, but it is pleasing to God.
During my first year of teaching in a Christian school, (I had a combined 6 and 7th grade class with 26 livewires) The Lord sent a Chinese Christian lady to talk during one of our Bible classes. As an object lesson she displayed a magnificent silk coat and made the point that it took a million silkworms to produce that garment. She made the analogy that it is that way in our lives. If we are willing to sacrifice, God will do an enduring work in the lives of those whom we serve. I’ll never forget that, for that thought has encouraged me countless times over the years. We must sacrifice to be the teachers God wants us to become.