Serving the Lord

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord (Romans 12:11).

Parenting has become a popular word in recent years. One dictionary defines parenting as “the work or skill of a parent in raising a child or children.” The word implies a whole group of skills and abilities necessary for parents to do the work made necessary when children are brought into the world.

For Christians, a God-given love and concern for the child’s eternal welfare is certainly basic to parenting, and has an effect on all that we do.

Since parenting is such a useful word, I’d like to suggest another word for this article, namely, “teaching.” While not in the dictionary, I’d like to define it as “the work or skill of a teacher in educating a child or children in a school.”

Many parenting skills are equally useful for teaching, so in our Lutheran schools you will find dedicated teachers devoting themselves to the very same concerns that Christian parents have. And it is all done with the same motivation, the love of Christ Jesus who cares for each and every one of his precious lambs.

Yet there are some obvious differences in teaching. A teacher is working with other people’s children. So our Lutheran teachers view themselves as supplementing and reinforcing the Christian parenting activities of the home. Teachers are trained and equipped to provide all those skills of formal education, which most parents don’t have. Where home, school and church work together in Christian harmony, each child has an ideal situation for obtaining the best Christian education we can possibly provide. Is it any wonder, then, that we invest millions of dollars in the various educational programs in our congregations and synod!

In some ways Christian parenting can be viewed as coming to an end. Children grow up and eventually leave home, becoming parents themselves and starting the pattern all over. For teachers the prospects are different. Consider the kindergarten teacher with an endless supply of shoelaces to tie, with a never-ending line to the lavatory, with a constant source of children who need to master their numbers and letters.

As the teachers’ years move along, there seems to be no end to runny noses, lost pencils, misplaced papers, dried-out paste, single mittens, memory work recitations, papers to grade, lessons to teach again and again, and so on and on. There is little doubt that teaching requires its own set of special abilities.

While grade-school parenting might include four years of Friday night basketball, weekend track, Tuesday football and nightly homework, the teachers’ basketball, track, football and homework continue year after year. Who would think that adults would take pleasure from such things when the world is filled with much more interesting activities? Only a teacher would know for sure.

Only a teacher would get this involved with someone else’s children in such a personal way. Yet teachers devote their lives to such matters because each child’s life and development are important to them. Each child has a precious, redeemed soul to be nurtured.

Teachers are partners with parents in doing one of the most important and challenging tasks which God has entrusted to his people–the molding, training, encouraging, nurturing and educating of children.

Whether parenting or teaching, Paul’s words at the top of this article are fitting. What we do requires much zeal and spiritual fervor, which can only be supplied by a gracious Lord. And all we do is neatly summed up in the words, “serving the Lord. ” That’s why parents love their children; that’s why teachers love their children too.

Do you think you want to be a teacher in a Lutheran school? The challenges are immense, the hours are long, the children are not your own, the work seems to have no end. But the rewards are among the finest you will find. Has God blessed you with the special skills for teaching? Use your blessing to be a blessing to others.

Arlyn Boll, former principal at St. John, Watertown, Wisconsin