As Christian teachers, we want to do more than just inspire our students to love academics. We also want to make a real and lasting impact in their hearts and lives. We strive to help them grow in character and wisdom and experience the greatest joy when we see Christ work directly in their hearts.
This season we’re discussing 10 traits of impactful Christian teachers – characteristics we need to focus on if we want to go beyond just teaching academics and make a significant impact on our students’ lives. We’re discussing each trait one by one to see what the Bible has to say about it & what it looks day-to-day in the classroom, whether it be in public or private schools.
In this article, we briefly discuss each key trait & then dive deeper in the corresponding podcast episodes which will be released one per week over the next 10 weeks. (Click here to sign up to be notified by email about each new episode. Or, click here to subscribe via iTunes.)
If we want to have the biggest impact as Christian teachers, we must…
1. Have a Strong Sense of Mission
As a Christian teacher, your mission as a teacher needs to go beyond just teaching academics. You need to know God has called you to the classroom, and you should also be looking for Him to change lives, regardless of where you teach.
Listen to this episode to find out the different forms this mission takes in public schools vs. Christian schools.
Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:15-16
2. Strive for excellence (but not perfectionism).
If you want to have a big impact, you need to gain the respect of your students, fellow teachers, and administration. One way to do that is by pursuing excellence in all you do. But while a great danger lies in being mediocre, even greater danger arises when we seek perfection. Instead, we must seek to do our best for Christ, seeking excellence but not perfectionism.
In this episode, we discuss in detail the two dangers that attempt to derail our pursuit of excellence.
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24
3. Love our students.
Love is the most powerful force on earth and the one that can make the biggest difference in your students’ hearts. Yet sometimes it’s hard to demonstrate true, genuine love. Especially when a particular kiddo’s not being very lovable. We need to remember that love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. And on the days when love is hardest, we must choose to show love.
Listen to this episode to discover 12 ways to show love to your students.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
Related Article: “How to Show Real Love to the Kids (even when they’re acting unloveable)“
Related Article: “10 Ways to Show Christ to our Students“
4. Teach for the heart (not just outward behavior)
We’ve talked a lot about how important classroom management is, but apart from simply keeping order, we have an important question to ask ourselves. Are we more concerned with what’s in a student’s heart or just with their outward behavior?
It’s relatively easy to force a certain outward behavior, and students can learn to simply play the part. But what good will that do once they’re out of our classroom. The only way to have a truly lasting impact is to change what’s in their heart.
In this episode, you’ll find 7 practical ways you can focus on teaching for the heart.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45
Explore these concepts in more depth with us in Take Heart and Teach. In this easy-to-read book, you’ll discover how to teach with excellence, balance, and the joy of the Lord – even when things are crazy.
Find out more about Take Heart & Teach.
5. Be humble & real.
Genuine humility and real faith inspire respect in students, which in turn, provides an amazing opportunity for influence.
We cannot put on a facade for our students – try to be something we’re not. Instead, we must simply be the best we can, be real about our struggles, and ask for forgiveness when we fall short.
But we can’t force humility if it’s not in our hearts. So the first step is to humble ourselves before God in prayer.
Listen to this episode to learn 7 keys to displaying genuine humility.
He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble. – James 4:6
6. Encourage & edify those around us.
Encouragement is so much more than praise. It actually means “to make someone more determined, hopeful, or confident.” Are our words and actions making our students more determined to do their best, more hopeful about their own growth, and more confident about what they can accomplish?
And do we go beyond encouraging and also edify our students – build up their character as well?
In this episode, we discuss specific ways we can encourage and edify both our students and our colleagues.
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. – I Thess. 5:11
7. Develop a strong relationship with God.
Prayer & our relationship with God are the most important keys to everything in our life, including our work in the classroom. We can teach in our own power, but we’ll only accomplish so much. If we want real, lasting impact, that has to come from Him. He’s the one that knows what our students need. And He’s the one that has to work in their hearts.
We all know that a close relationship with God requires spending time reading His Word, praying, and thinking about His truths. But this is more than a ritual. It’s really about asking God questions and listening to Him. About getting to know His voice so that we can hear & distinguish it in our daily lives and follow His leading.
This is a life-long process, one that’s never done, but one we should be continually seeking. But as things get busy, it’s easy to let our time with God slide. I’ve found that trying something new (or renewing an old habit) can help refocus my spiritual life.
Listen to this episode to discover 15 ways to breathe new life into your time with God.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. – James 1:5
Related Article: “12 Creative Ways to Have Devotions“
8. Seek wisdom and truth by thinking Biblically.
No matter where you teach, you must always remember that what God tells us in His Word is the truth – regardless of whether it’s popular, regardless of whether anyone else agrees with it. There IS absolute truth. Values are not different than facts. This is the world’s wisdom, but it’s wrong.
No matter what situation comes up in your classroom – from girl drama to college advice to a student who comes out to you – if you want to lead students in the right direction, you have to start with a Biblical view of the situation.
In this episode, we discuss 3 keys to viewing real-life issues from a Biblical perspective.
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” – I Cor. 3:18-20
Recommended book: Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity by Nancy Pearcey
Related Article: “Life, Liberty and Censorship? What the First Amendment really says about religion in the public sphere”
9. Trust God and not be afraid.
As I read your emails & comments, I see a lot of fear, a lot of stress, a lot of worry. And it’s no wonder – teaching is pretty stressful. But this struggle should look a whole lot different for Christians than it does for non-Christians. And that difference should provide a stark contrast and example – something nonbelieving students and colleagues will notice – something they will want.
A Christian’s life should be marked by peace – by trusting God in good times as well as bad, by relying on His strength, and by resting in Him instead of yielding to anxiety. This is way easier said than done, but I think too often we write it off as impossible. Maybe it is on our own, but it’s not with God.
Listen to this episode to discover 5 keys to releasing fear & stress and trusting God instead.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Phil. 4:6-7
Related article: “5 Truths to Remember When You’re Stressing Out“
10. Evidence the fruit of the Spirit.
Imagine the power of your testimony – how attractive the Gospel would appear to your students, parents, & colleagues – if your actions were always full of love, if heart was overflowing with joy, if you had peace amidst the chaos, if you consistently demonstrated patience, if you were kind and good, had great faith, had the humility of meekness, and consistently practiced self-control.
Wow! The power of such a testimony! Especially in the classroom!
But this is not pie-in-the-sky idealism. This is the life Christ wants from us. These are traits that are essential to the Christian life, qualities we could certainly use an extra dose of in our teaching. But we can’t cultivate them on our own. They are the fruit (the result) of the Spirit and He is the one who will produce them in our lives when we are close to Him, yield our lives to Him, and ask Him to work in us in these areas.
In this episode, we discuss 2 false viewpoints that will keep us from cultivating the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and what to do instead.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness (kindness), goodness, faith, meekness (gentleness), temperance (self-control): against such there is no law. – Gal 5:22-23
May God work in each of us to develop these traits, so that we can have a significant and lasting impact in our students’ hearts and lives.
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