Teaching is more than just a job. It's a calling and unique privilege. And as Christian teachers, it takes on even more significance as we realize God has placed us right where we are for a reason. Join us as we discuss why we should view teaching as a ministry and some practical examples of what that looks like.
Have you ever thought of teaching as a ministry?
What exactly does this even mean?
Well, think about church. You're probably involved in a ministry or two there, right? Maybe you work with youth or help in the nursery or make meals for new moms. All of these ministries are ways to serve God and make a difference.
But that's how we should view teaching, too - as a way to serve God. As an opportunity God has given you to do to make a difference spiritually in other people's lives.
Let's consider a few verses that illustrate this point:
christ as the boss
You should, because in God's eyes your teaching has spiritual significance. Consider Colossians 3:23-24:
"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."
I love this verse because it reminds us that all of our work has a spiritual component to it because we're supposed to be working for God, not for men.
As teachers, we're always serving so many people. We are serving our students, parents, administrators, and even fellow teachers. There are so many people we're responsible to that we can easily forget that our ultimate boss is Christ. He's the one that we actually should be seeking to please above all else, and He's the one that matters the most.
SALT & LIGHT
Another verse that can help inform our teaching philosophy is Matthew 5:13-16:
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, 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."
These verses teach us that no matter what we're doing, whether we're at work or at home or with our family or with our friends, we are called to be salt and to be light.
In Bible days, salt was used to preserve meat. It would be placed in the meat to keep it from decaying as quickly.
As Christians, we called to slow down the decay in the culture around us, and to make a difference in that way. We're called to be light, shining forth the light of truth into the darkness.
Honestly, everything we do is a ministry. Serving our family is a ministry, and this concept can change everything. But teaching definitely fits in the category, right? Teaching is a ministry. It's a work we do for God to make a difference in others' lives.
is your life divided?
Both of these scriptures speak to what it means to be a teacher, or at least what it should mean.
But often we don't see it that way because we often fall prey to the fallacy that there is a sacred-secular split, or a private-public split. Meaning, we view religion or faith as part of our private life, but think that it kind of has nothing to do with our public work.
In other words, there's a divide in our lives. We find faith meaningful and important for church, for our private worship, and our private life. But there's almost this divider wall where it doesn't affect what we do at work.
It's separate. Faith is for our private lives, and then there's this other world of my work and my job, and my faith doesn't really have anything to do with that.
Well, this may be a common way of thinking in our culture, but it is certainly not Biblical.
We already looked at a few verses, but all throughout the Bible you'll see that our faith is not supposed to be something that only helps us internally. It's also supposed to change who we are everywhere, both public and private. It must be something so real that we cannot possibly lock it in a box for Sunday and not have it affect us throughout the rest of the week.
god's truths are universal
If we truly believe the Bible, we know that God's truths are universal. He didn't only give us the Bible so that we can worship Him better in our daily devotions at home and at church.
He is the creator, and He designed everything. Therefore, His truths affect everything. They govern all of creation. They're hardwired into the way people think, into the way the world works.
For example, consider the concept of sowing and reaping. That's a scriptural concept but also a universal truth because that's how God set up the world to work.
Because God's truths are universal, they affect everyone, whether they believe in God or not. They're simply the way God has created the world.
Thus, it's actually quite foolish of us to think that Biblical truths only matter for our private life and that they don't affect what's happening in our school, in our classroom, and all these other things.
what does it mean?
If God's truths are universal and our faith should impact everything we do, what does this look like?
Well, there's a ton we could say. This should change our relationships with our boss, with our students, and with parents. It should impact our work ethic and our resilience. It should show forth in joy and passion and peace amidst the chaos of teaching.
We could go into detail on any of these points, but for now let's focus on one point: making a difference in our students' lives.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
As teachers, one of our biggest goals is to make a difference in our students' lives. Of course we want to see them succeed academically. We want them to do well in English and math and history and science, but we also want them to walk away from our class better equipped for life than they were when they started.
We want them to develop strong character qualities. We want to help them with the issues that they're facing. It's hardwired into teaching. Making these real impacts is one of the main reasons we teach.
Now, if we believe the Bible, we know that Jesus is actually the answer that so many of our students are seeking. Whether you teach in a Christian school or a public school, Jesus is the answer to so many of their problems. He is what they ultimately need. Jesus holds the answer to our students' identity issues, trouble with peers, etc.
Depending on where you teach, there could be a lot of limitations on what you're allowed to say. But my challenge is to not focus on the limitations but to look for what you can do within the limitations that you're given.
And even if we can't speak to the spiritual issues, we need to keep them in mind, because when we're keeping it in mind, then when the opportunity presents itself, we'll take advantage of it.
MOVING STUDENTS TO THE RIGHT
Depending on where you teach, this looks quite different.
In a Christian school, you can and should be open and clear and talk directly with students about Christ.
In public schools, you have a lot of restrictions. But you should still be looking for opportunities to do what you can, legally, to point them to Him.
But here's where we get tripped up: Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that in order to point students to Christ, we have to share the Gospel directly. Now if we have that opportunity, within our legal/professional obligations, then that's fantastic. But it's also quite rare. The good news is that sharing the Gospel itself is only one piece of the puzzle. This diagram shows the rest of the process:
Notice that there are many steps for a person to come to maturity in Christ. They may start far away, not even aware, and it takes many interactions before they're ready to receive the Gospel and accept Christ.
After a person is saved, they are transferred into the Kingdom of the Son, but there's still a lot left in the process. Discipleship, growth, training - all of this takes time to bring us to maturity in Christ.
There's often multiple people involved in this process, and that's where we as teachers may come in.
You may be one of these touchpoints along the way. Maybe you're the first Christian they've ever met and are an example of love and kindness. Maybe you bring up topics of religion in class (in a legal way) and get them to start thinking and asking questions.
You may never know the importance of these interactions. God may be using them in your students' lives.
We should look for opportunities to move students one step to the right, and we should never discount those small interactions that we are able to have with them.
To this end, it definitely helps to know what is & isn't legally allowed - and you might be pleasantly surprised to discover how much you are allowed to bring up topics of faith and religion - as long as they're done in the right way.
I recommend checking out our free Teach with Faith, not Fear training with David Schmus of CEAI. In it, you'll learn about what is and isn't legal when it comes to topics of faith and religion in the classroom. You'll also find answers to common questions such as whether or not you can tell your students you're a Christian, teach the religious origin of holidays, have a Bible on your desk, and much more. Click here to enroll in the free Teach with Faith training.
CEAI is also a fantastic organization to connect with. They assist members with legal and ethical questions, provide advice for sticky situations, and even offer job action protection and professional liability insurance. Get more info about CEAI here.
a word for those in christian schools
If you teach in a Christian school, this process doesn't need to be subtle, and you should be actively working to move students along the spectrum - no matter which side they're on.
If they're already believers, then it's our privilege to actively disciple and train them, helping them through struggles a guiding them along their journey to maturity in Christ.
And for students that don't know Him, we can actively engage them as well - providing thought-provoking questions, discussing concerns, and even sharing the Gospel directly.
What a privilege!
never forget prayer!
As Christian teachers, we should view teaching as a ministry and seeking to move people to the right.
But we can never forget the importance of prayer.
Prayer is our way of partnering with God, so when we don't know, when we're looking for opportunities and we're not seeming to find them, we can always pray for our students. We can always make a difference through prayer - never doubt that it truly does make a difference.
We can pray directly for our students, and we can also pray for ourselves - that we would see the opportunities, that we would have wisdom, and that He would bring us opportunities for us to do just that.
To help keep this top of mind, we invite you to join us in our free prayer challenge. The challenge is simple - pray for your students and school every day for three weeks. Join the 21-day prayer challenge here.
spread the word!
Did you find this post helpful? Clue in your fellow teachers by sharing the post directly (just copy the URL) or by clicking one of the buttons to automatically share on social media.