By Bob Russell
The summer is ending and school is resuming in most places. This is the time of year when I’m thankful I’m not a schoolteacher. It seems to me a teacher’s task is tougher than ever before—especially for those who serve in public schools. Fifty years ago teachers didn’t have to deal with the threat of physical violence, widespread chemical abuse, abbreviated attention spans, and total disrespect for authority to the degree they do today.
It’s even more challenging to be a devoted Christian educator in a public school. God-honoring teachers, principals, coaches, band leaders, counselors, and others desperately want to influence their students for Christ. But nervous administrators, fearful of a lawsuit, and aggressive secularists, eager to challenge any hint of separation of church and state, make meaningful witnessing almost impossible.
Courageous Christian teachers are among the unsung heroes in the church. Since the Bible urges us to “encourage one another daily” and to “pray for one another,” I’d like to offer the following petition for our schoolteachers who have reenlisted for another nine-month stint on the front lines.
“Our Father in Heaven, we confess we demand too much from schoolteachers. We expect them to create a love for learning in an environment where many students don’t seem to care, in large part because their parents don’t really care. We want teachers to be good disciplinarians, and yet we give them little leverage over those who rebel. We want our teachers to live exemplary lives, and yet we ridicule their most cherished values. We expect them to work after school preparing lessons and grading papers and to spend their summers furthering their education; yet their pay is not nearly what it should be.
“Lord, remind our teachers just now of their high calling from you. Fill them anew with the Holy Spirit, and grant them a fresh eagerness to enter the classroom to fulfill that calling. And give them the assurance that they don’t go there alone. You have promised to never leave them nor forsake them.
“Grant them patience when their nerves get frazzled. Grant them wisdom when their values are challenged. Grant them energy when they feel completely drained. Grant them courage when they’re tempted to weasel out of an opportunity to stand for truth, be it in the classroom or the teacher’s lounge. Grant them compassion for even the most undisciplined, rotten, despicable, and unlovable kids in the class.
“On those days when it seems no one appreciates their efforts and they battle discouragement, remind them of their ultimate goal—not to please men but to honor you. And on that day when school is over permanently and they stand before you for their final evaluation, may they hear you say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’
“And, Lord, as they stroll the golden streets of Heaven, may they encounter many former students who gush with gratitude, ‘Thanks for the positive impact you had on my life. You didn’t realize it at the time, but I was watching you. I probably wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for your influence on me.’
“Father, we ask for these blessings in the name of the one who was often referred to as ‘Good Teacher’—Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Bob Russell is the retired senior minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky. Copyright 2013 by Bob Russell. Permission to
copy this column may be obtained by writing Debbie Carper, Southeast Christian Church, 920 Blankenbaker Pkwy, Louisville, KY 40243.