Teachers as Examples . . .In Faith

A Persian legend tells of a king who needed to appoint a man to an important position. He had two likely candidates. Which should he choose? He decided to hire both of them to do a task for a day and to pay them a reasonable sum. The agreed task was to fill a basket from a nearby well. He would come at the end of the day and inspect their work.

After dumping several buckets of water into the basket, one of the men said, “What good is it to be pouring all this water into the basket? As soon as we pour it in, it runs out the sides.”

The other replied, “But we have our wages, haven’t we? Why we do it is the master’s business, not ours.”

“I’m not going to do such fool’s work,” said the first. He tossed his bucket down and went away. The other man continued until he had drained the entire well. He peered into the well and saw something shining at the bottom. It was a diamond ring. “Now I see the use of pouring water into the basket,” he said. “If I had brought up the ring before the well was dry, I would have found it in the basket. Our work wasn’t useless.”

Possibly you feel that your efforts in the classroom are like pouring water into a basket. You explain and clarify and illustrate; and what is left in the students’ minds? The information and concepts seem to have drained from their brains. But even if the knowledge you try to impart trickles away, the treasure that remains in their lives will be the example of your faithfulness.

A teacher is to be an “example . . . in faith” (1 Timothy 4:12). Faith and faithfulness are closely intertwined. Your faithfulness is the yardstick of your faith. How does your faith “measure up” in the classroom?

1. To God and His Word

Can your students see your faith in God and your faithfulness to His Word? “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). Teachers are stewards who have been entrusted with treasures of godly wisdom. Teachers need to be faithful in orally teaching the Word and in living the Word.

Faithfulness to God in the classroom will be shown in such areas as prayer, obedience, worship, speech, respect for God’s name, and submission.Your students will not only observe if you are faithful to God and Scriptures in the classroom, but also if you are loyal outside of school. Spurgeon said, “Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle; he that obeys God trusts God; and he that trusts God obeys God. He that is without faith is without works, and he that is without works is without faith.”

2. To Your School Board and Church

Are you faithful to the school board and the requests and expectations of the board? Do you get reports to them in an accurate and timely fashion? Dependability is more important to the board than a high IQ. How wonderful when a school board can say at the end of the school year to the teacher, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Are you an example of faithfulness in the congregation? Consider your attendance at church services (including prayer meeting), your acceptance of responsibility, your appearance and adherence to congregational expressions of nonconformity, your appreciation for and adherence to the brotherhood covenant.

The greatest ability of a teacher is dependability. We can’t do everything that others can do, but we can do what we can. The inscription on Fanny Crosby’s tombstone says She Hath Done What She Could. Although blind, she has inspired millions of people through the hundreds of hymns she wrote.

3. To Parents and Pupils

Parents give to teachers an awesome trust. Teachers act on their behalf in influencing their most valuable treasure – their children. Therefore, it is incumbent upon teachers to do their best to be trustworthy and dependable in academics, spiritual instruction, and discipline. Teach pupils accurately in math and spelling. Give correct, up-to-date information in history and geography. Correct the common errors in science books and encyclopedias regarding the origin of life, the age of the earth, etc.

Teach pupils reverence for God, love for the Bible, and admiration and obedience to Jesus Christ. Not only in the devotional period but also throughout the day, communicate that God is real and present. Be an example of faithfully interpreting the Scriptures. As 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”Teach pupils self-discipline. Instill habits and attitudes that prevent discipline problems. Handle corrective discipline in a fair and consistent manner.

Teaching can be discouraging because of the incremental nature of most learning. A teacher may wonder if one’s work is accomplishing anything. So it was with Washington Gladden, a New England minister. One day, feeling downhearted, he climbed up to the church belfry to think. The thought entered his mind to jump and end his earthly life. But he knew that made no sense.  Instead, he poured out his heart in prayer. As he meditated, he wrote a prayer that applies well to teachers.

O Master, let me walk with Thee
In lowly paths of service free.
Tell me Thy secret, help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love;
Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
And guide them in the homeward way.

Our faithful God will teach us. May we faithfully teach and guide our pupils to the Heavenly Home.

—Howard Bean

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