Monday, June 04, 2007

The Noble Profession & Ministry

I am not sure who exactly first regarded teaching as a noble profession, but the phrase has stuck. On its own merits, teaching is an important vocation, one not easily surpassed by other callings. Yet teaching presents the Christian with yet another advantage: it is an excellent way to witness to the world.

How is this so? Well, in the last 150 years, Americans turned the responsibility of schooling their children to "public" schools, shifting the entire enterprise of education from one controlled and managed by private hands to one directed by massive bureaucracies and personalities. Men like Horace Mann have changed the very character of the American experience as children who many years ago would have been instructed in private, small classrooms now pool with hundreds and even thousands of fellow students to receive instruction from a curriculum forged largely by secular minds and taught by the same. The American educational system is a strange beast, indeed. It is massive, filled with many deficiencies and weaknesses, and yet it generally accomplishes the aim set before it: to teach our young minds. For those of us in the Christian church who grew up in public school, we remember it with a sense of wonderment. School was so many things--our place of education, a hostile social scene, a haven featuring occasionally exquisite persons and instruction, a sports battleground, a place of music and drama, and so much else. The one thing sorely lacking in many schools nowadays, though, is the one thing that is needed far more than any program, and that is the Christian presence.

Christians need to see teaching as a missions field ripe for witness. This is not to say at all that teachers may simply sign up to teach and then start witnessing. Far from it. Most public schools and many private schools put the clamp down on Christians, and many discriminate against them, though they do so under the sparkling banner of tolerance. But that's no matter. Christians will find ample opportunities to be salt and light in the school. Many children in the public school system have bad home lives and suffer greatly from poor parenting. Christians can be a light to such children simply by showing them kindness and paying attention to them. Teachers can be a profound witness to their students simply by the way they live. Years after my public schooling, I can readily tick off teachers who made a profound--life-long, actually--impression on me as a child by their kindness, character, and goodness. When teachers behave in such a way, they allow deep bonds to form with children, and this in turn will present opportunities for gospel witness.

I would encourage Christians who want to witness to the world but who are unsure of how to do this--single young women, single men, or men who are unsure what to do with themselves--to consider teaching. Few other vocations so encourage one to invest in other people. Few other jobs bring us into such direct contact with the lost. It is my hope that many of us will follow in the footsteps of past Christian teachers and bring the blessed gospel to the noble profession.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me it has been a privilege to be a christian professional in the public school system. I like to think that I have impacted students from k-12 in a positive
way to the glory of Christ.

10:18 AM  
Blogger mkn3130 said...

I'm a new reader of your blog, and as an education major, I GREATLY appreciate these encouraging words today! Thanks!


12:55 PM  
Blogger Dad said...

One contray comment, while there are individual exceptions to this, but I think that too many people already are encouraged to teach who have no God given ability to teach, don't rush into offering general encouragement that might sound like: "you can't do anything else? Try teaching, or the ministry."

Yet, I also believe that most of us have some opportunities and some responsibility to teach.

Al (not Owen's dad nor that other "Al".)

9:43 AM  

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