Another school year has now come and gone… People talk about time flying, and getting even faster as you get older, and like anyone else I suppose I was always skeptical. But this year went by even faster than the last one, so perhaps there is something to that after all.
Last week also happened to be Teacher Appreciation Week, and I read a devotional in David Jeremiah’s Pathways devotional book that is quite fitting for teachers even though his intended target was parents.
Dr. Jeremiah quotes from Tom Baker, the character played by Steve Martin in the film Cheaper by the Dozen, who explained his explanation to walk away from coaching college football by referencing the stress his job had on his family. When asked by his boss if he would have any regrets for his decision, Baker replies, “If I screw up raising my kids, nothing I achieve will matter much.”
Jeremiah then transitions to how Jesus made essentially the same point, though worded differently, when he said, in Mark 9:42, “But whoever causes one of these little ones…to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” “In other words,” Jeremiah writes, “raising children is a serious responsibility and privilege; we should treat it that way and give our best to this high calling.”
This is certainly true of parents, but it is also true of teachers. Teachers are in positions of incredible influence. Sadly, there are teachers in the world who do cause their students to stumble. Many more of them, however, are doing their very best to influence their students, to teach them, to equip them to accomplish great things. This is true of many teachers in public schools as well as Christian schools and other private schools. What separates the Christian school teacher–or should–from those teachers in other schools is that they recognize the spiritual aspect of their responsibility. They are not simply equipping students to get high scores on tests, to get admitted to the best schools or to obtain the best positions in the workforce. While they may be doing those things, they are also–and more importantly–focusing on the spiritual development of their students.
Jeremiah writes, “The world says we ought to pursue degrees, titles, salaries, and accomplishments. But if you look intently into the eyes of your child [or student, I might add], the things that are truly important will become clear. The title you hold will fade, and your accomplishments will someday be forgotten; it is the investment you make into the spiritual life of your children that will outlive you and carry on into eternity.”
This is why Christian school teachers do what they do. They certainly do not do it for the money or for the hours. They do not do it for the reasons the world says we should do things. They do it because they have been called by God to teach, to invest in the lives of their students, and to make a difference for today and for the future.