Suffice it to say that while I am extremely proud and happy to be a Christian school teacher, I have recently learned that being a Christian educator means much more than where you teach. In actuality, it means how you teach, and especially who you are. If you are a Christian educator means that you are committed to maintaining a personal life of integrity, serving as a role model for students, and raising up students who can make a difference in the world.
How can this be accomplished for those of us who teach in public schools, some of you may very well wonder. We live in a country that preserves the right to believe and the right not to believe. Your opinion on this principle may very well determine whether or not you choose to change the world from within the public school system or whether you choose to retreat and try a different route by choosing homeschooling and Christian schooling as your primary ministry.
On this site I would like to personally recognize two key points about choosing to teach in a public school and try to develop an apologia for those who feel called to this particular ministry.
1. Jesus tended to minister among those who were most in need of Him. So many stories of Jesus’ life contribute to the idea that Jesus was really about “healing those who were sick.” This does not mean that homeschooling and Christian school ministries are not also valid ministries, but it doesn’t rule out public school teaching as a ministry. Instead, the stories of Zaccheus the tax collector, the woman at the well, the leprous beggars, the Good Samaritan and the thief on the cross teach us that no point is too low that Christ cannot reach into the depths, bring forgiveness from sin and change lives radically. Once we stop believing this, we have chosen to doubt God’s power and we, as a natural result, are blinded to miracles of public school ministries that happen every day.
2. Public schools do not have to be a lost cause. Teachers can contribute in different ways: by pushing for character education programs, by counseling students one-on-one, by inspiring them to seek answers for the emptiness inside their lives and (even subversively) play Christian music in their empty rooms during break in the hopes that the notes will one day reach the ears of a passerby. Those who are brave enough to venture an invitation to a youth group activity, start a Bible study group, or openly admit a personal Christian belief should hold fast to the words of Jim Eliot, which we Christians admire so well: “He is no fool if he would choose to give the things he cannot keep to buy what he can never lose.” What is a mission after all, but to take risks in the name of Christ. Above all, it should be the job of each Christian educator to train up children to take ownership of their faith, not to just receive it passively as the byproduct of a parent’s beliefs. In a public school, teachers are more free to ask the big questions concerning ethics, morality, opinions concerning the role of religion in society and even more to model the community service that causes so many to open their eyes to the reality of Christ’s love for orphans, the homeless, the societal rejects, and minority voices in our country.
Just an FYI–If you happen to be a Christian teaching in a public school, you may want to check out the link for the Christian Educators Association International. According to the website, its mission is ” to “serve the educational community by encouraging, equipping and empowering Christian educators serving in public and private schools.” It claims to be the only Christian Association that includes Christian educators working in the public arena and offers professional liability insurance opportunities if you should ever find yourself in a position of threatened suspension, termination or lawsuits.
Thanks for being on the front lines!