If you're a Christian teacher, it shouldn't matter where you teach. Our goal should be the same - to show Christ to our students.
Some of us can be more open and apparent, but all of us can and should be intentional about showing Christ and His love in every way we can.
When I think about sharing Christ, the first thing that pops into my head is talking about Him. And while we should certainly take advantage of every opportunity we get to talk about God & His truths, just talking about Him isn't enough. Our students need to see Christ in us. We need to show them who He is. And that's something every one of us can do - no matter where we teach.
I wish I could say I'm always a perfect model, but I'm not. None of us are. But with God's help we can continue to grow closer - in our personal walk, in our testimony, and in our portrayal of Him.
Let's look at a few ways, in particular, that we can model Christ in our classrooms.
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How to Model Christ in Our Classrooms
- Love our students. God is love, and if we want to show Him to our students, we must also love them - all of them. Even the one that's driving us crazy. And it's not enough to just say we love them. We need to show them that we love them. We discuss how in my post "How to Show Real Love to the Kids (Even When They're Not Acting Lovable)."
- Be kind and understanding. When we're mean or grumpy, we turn students off and are a poor model of the Savior we serve. We must be kind and understanding of our students' struggles. This doesn't mean that we are a pushover. But we can be kind and firm at the same time. And, in fact, we must be.
- Care more about our students than our policies. Too often we get so entrenched in our policies that we miss the point - that we're here to help our students grow. As we talk about in Take Heart and Teach, sometimes a student needs some mercy. Sometimes we shouldn't be fair. Sometimes what's best for a student doesn't line up perfectly with our plan. In these cases, we must pray for wisdom and remember that the growth and maturity of our students is our main goal.
- Have high expectations and hold students to them. Caring more about our students than our policies in no case means we should start letting everything go. On the contrary, we must have high expectations. And we must hold students to them. If we're pushovers or wishy-washy, we are a poor example of Christ's authority and leadership.
- Value integrity. Our society today has little value for integrity, yet we all respect it when we see it. Model integrity in your own life and expect it of your students. Teach them what it looks like, and put forth the effort to help them develop it.
- Counsel students; don't just hand out punishments. I know that in a busy day, it's much easier to just hand out a detention and be done with it. But if this is all we ever do, we're not going to make much of an impact on our students. We need to take the time to counsel them - whether it's about their behavior in our class or an interpersonal dispute or a tough situation they're facing. Be approachable and show them that you're there to help them grow. (Check out the post "How to Counsel a Student" for more insight.)
- Let His truths permeate your conversations and lessons. God's truths should be such a part of us that we can't help but speak them in our daily conversations and in our lessons. And lest those of you in public schools think this doesn't apply to you, realize that God's truths are universal. Our students need to hear them, even if they can't be told straight out that they come from the Bible.
Check out this post here for details about what is legally allowed in public schools.
- Model Christlike living. Our lives should portray Christ, and our conduct should be an example. The Spirit should be evidencing His fruit - love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. And our lives should be marked by integrity and purity. We would never want our sin to be a stumbling block for our students.
- Be humble. Servant leadership is a powerful example of Christ and will draw students to Him. When we can set aside our pride, admit our mistakes, and not be easily offended, our students will see a very real difference.
- Be real. Above all else, we have to be real. Genuine. Ourselves. Students can sense hypocrisy a mile away, and it will turn them off faster than anything. We are not perfect. And we don't always have it all together. When we're authentic about our own struggles, we show them that our faith is real and model how God can work in us to change us and mold us into His image.
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