To Teach or Not to Teach

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To Teach or Not to Teach

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Teaching is not a career for the faint of heart. It is not a job for someone to do 9-5 or even 8-4 as some would believe. It is a way of life that consumes. If you have recently become a teacher or have been put into a position as a teacher to others, you will soon realize that teaching is a complete giving of yourself.

What are some motivating factors for people to become a teacher? Besides having the “summers off” and “short” school days, people may want to make a difference in the lives of others, share some knowledge that they feel particularly skilled in or they may enjoy working in a social environment where they are not stuck at a desk all day.

Are we all in an environment where we can teach?

When it comes to our occupations in this life, one should be able to find ways to teach and train those around them in any job. You don’t have to become a primary or secondary teacher or even a college professor to make an impact on people. God has given us a lifetime in this environment on earth to learn, grow, teach and serve. The teaching profession has its challenges, and those who enter that career path are in for a rewarding but strenuous journey that requires true grit.

Should we want to be teachers?

In the biblical sense of the word, James 1:3 indicates perhaps not: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” Here it is upfront: If you are to teach, be prepared for a stricter judgment.

God does not take teaching of His Word lightly. In Matthew 5:19 Jesus says, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” If you want to teach, beware. However what if you want to be found great in the Kingdom of God? What must you do? The end of the verse gives the answer: “…but whoever does and teaches them [the commandments], he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

What else does the Bible say about teaching?

The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go thereforeand make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” As God’s people, we are commanded to make disciples and teach them how to follow God’s way.

Are we given examples of teachers in the Bible?

Christ was our example in everything, including teaching. In Matthew 4:23 it shows Jesus going throughout Galilee “teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom...” Christ taught the multitudes in Matthew 5:1-2 in the famous Sermon on the Mount. He taught with one authority in Matthew 7:29 and taught on many more occasions (Matthew 9:35, Matthew 13:54, Matthew 21:23). He is our example and He was a teacher. Christ says, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am” (John 13:13, NIV). If we are striving to become as Christ, should we not also learn to be righteous teachers?

In contrast to righteous teachers are examples of false teachers in the Bible. A person cannot necessarily know a false prophet by signs coming to pass or not, but whether they keep the commandments of God and walk in His way. As said in Isaiah 8:20: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” A true teacher will teach the Word of God and point you towards Him. (For more on this subject, see "Many False Prophets Will Arise and Deceive Many" by Tom Robinson). 

If you decide to teach, remember what is said in Romans 12:7: “If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well” (NLT).

If we are Christian parents, do we have a choice to be a teacher or not?

A parent is already a teacher. The Bible requires parents to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Training and teaching our children is to permeate our lives. God says: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).The Hebrew word for teach here also means “to point,” “to whet” or “to sharpen.” When teaching, prick the interest of the children; sharpen their minds using God’s Word as a guide.

What attitude should teachers have?

If someone asks you a question and you give them an answer, are you not teaching them? God will give you help if you approach it with the right attitude. 1 Peter 3:15 indicates what we should do: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” If we plan to be ready, we should be studying God’s Word in our daily life. We should speak with meekness, fear and humility since every word and action of ours will be taken into account in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).

Not to worry! Be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:6) as God has sent us help: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you,” so speak with confidence (John 14:26).

To teach or not to teach?

In sum, teachers are to keep the commandments and be examples to others, including their children, in all of God’s ways. It says,“By this time you ought to be teachers,” teaching the first principles of the oracles of God (Hebrews 5:12). We “ought” to be teachers of God’s way. Should we be teachers in society? Yes, we are to be examples to those around us, letting our light shine (Matthew 5:16). Should we be teachers as a profession? It is a noble vocation. Whatever venue we choose, we should strive to always be ready and able to give an answer as well as be a positive, godly example to the world. The answer is to teach.

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  • Daniel Kingsley Ringo
    That's a good article Sabrina. We as christians we should know that by following God's commandments we turn ourselves into teachers for the world we are living in has rules and lifestyle different from what we practice and follow, being different draws much attention on us, this makes us teachers as what we say and do will make others understand the words and commandments easier and better. Teachers ought to be exemplary, ready to give an answer to any question a student ask, like a parent teaching a child ways of the Lord is supposed to explain why and how is supposed to observe God's laws. Nice article Sabrina
  • Deborah K
  • Sabrina Peabody

    It is important to be upfront about your beliefs with your faculty and with your students. Of course it helps if you are in a diverse population where there is higher religious tolerance. My aunt who is a teacher has had her stories of difficulties but in the end, everything works out as it should. You may have to take leave without pay for the feast or use all your sick days up, but if you are a quality teacher, they will want to keep you.

    When it came to teaching, I focused on seasonal activities (winter themes etc.) and celebrated educational days that could be easily incorporated into teaching the curriculum like “Pi Day” on 3/14 of each year.

    Always pray. When I face obstacles, such as bringing up the feast, I think of the verse “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). He strengthens and guides us. Also, if you are seeking first the Kingdom of God then what you need, including a job, will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

    Concerning “having a life” when you are teacher, it is relative. If you want to go home and not think about teaching, you are in the wrong profession. Thinking of how to help your children (not only academically but socially and emotionally), brainstorming and constructing activities specifically for the learning styles of students that year, serving on afterschool clubs and going to continuing education classes are only part of what takes up the time. Depending on where you are, you have to keep up with state mandates, collaborate with special education teachers and support students who have individualized education programs. If you do not view this as eradicating your time but rather a productive use of your time, then you will have a meaningful life because of teaching. If you are perfectionist with a self-sacrificing personality you will soon learn that something has to give and that sometimes you have to leave work at work (although I always ended up grading on Sundays).

    Stay positive! Pray about it and ask for God’s guidance. It seems as you already have exposure to the environment so you shouldn’t be surprised by too much. Talk to the teachers around you and learn from their experience. Ask them how they feel about teaching and what obstacles and joys come with the profession. All the best!

  • dziwczyna

    Teaching is 3 jobs in one: teaching, preparing/marking, and administrative duties. Sometimes also managing, if one has to work with an assistant.

    Like any profession, one has to make choices and prioritise. I do something that most teachers don't do, which is do and leave my work at work. I have found that it works for me and my personality, and I can have a life--especially a spiritual one!

  • giannina48

    Thank you very much for your comments. I work in a school as a teacher assistant and yes I hear comments like "teachers do not have a life" but I believe that is relative. As you say any profession has his challenges.

  • dziwczyna

    I don't know about Ms Peabody's situation, but I have found teaching and having different religious beliefs tough. I've lost one job, had a school take back a job offer (which actually was a blessing in disguise) and currently am awaiting the decision to whether my request for religious leave will be accepted this year (which technically is non-negotiable to me). There are also problems with the world's holidays that are incorporated into the school curriculum, which I have declined to teach.

    For me, it is the best profession I could ever dream of working in. I love my job. There are issues, but God will deliver us from all things. "By my God I can leap over a wall (Ps. 18:29). And there are tests we all have to endure, but it is to make us stronger in faith to God and build godly character in us.

    I hope that you will not feel scared about the obstacles in teaching, as there are obstacles in any profession!

    Because of my profession, I have met many students and their families who I look forward to meeting and teaching in the resurrection!

  • giannina48

    Thanks for your article Sabrina. Becoming a teacher is my long term goal but tell me, how do you deal with this world holidays in class and having to take off for the Feast?.

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