By David Reynolds
“And of some have compassion, making a difference” (Jude 22).
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with the poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
In many of my seminars I ask the question, “How many of you can name the one teacher who made a difference in your life?” Hands go up all over the place for they still remember the name of that special teacher. They had many teachers, but it is only a few who made a difference. It is interesting, that it is not for what they taught they are remembered. Rather it is because that teacher touched them personally. Research has shown that if an ‘at risk’ child has even one such teacher in his life for only one year, it may be enough to save him from failure. You can be that special teacher that makes the difference for that child.
I have had a secret fear down through the years, that I would live my life and never make a difference. I well remember driving twenty five hundred miles to visit my father in Brockville, Ontario, Canada. After being there for a couple of days, my dad asked if I would serve as a pallbearer for a lady who had just died. He had been asked funeral. However, the number in the crowd is not what is important what is done for the kingdom of God is.
During the time I spent as an elementary school principal I noticed cracks in the superstructure of our society. More and more children were hurting and many were slipping through the cracks. For every problem in society our well-meaning legislators created an educational band-aid. We came up with ‘Smoke Free 2000,”Say No to Drugs,’ Law Related Education,’ and ‘Sex Education’ along with ‘use a condom’ solutions. We developed programs for `Sex Abuse,” Citizenship,” Multicultural Education,’ along with ‘Free Lunch and Breakfast’ programs. Each year we added more vice principals, councilors, social workers, special education classes, English as second language specialist and campus security guards. With all this the problems increase.
I cried along with Jeremiah, “Is there no balm in Gilead: is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughters of my people recovered” (Jeremiah 8:22). I slowly realized that our educational system was not working. I was not making a difference. I cared, I was dedicated, but I came to realize we were putting social band-aids on spiritual wounds. We were treating the symptoms and not curing the illness. It was then that I decided to take an early retirement and to work for the rest of my life as a teacher for Christ, for I knew in so doing I could make a difference. I knew I was in the will of God. I had to learn to die to ambition and security in order that I might live and make a difference.
“Except a corn of wheat fall in the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit… He that loveth his life shall lose it and he that hated; his life in this life shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:24-25).
I found early in my career that if I wanted to make a lot of money, education was not the place to be. I also found that if I wanted respect and acclaim at least in America, I would not find it in the teaching field. The only thing which kept me going was the sense that I was touching the lives of children. When that feeling began to fade I had to get out. I am not sorry I became a teacher for I now see the hand of the Lord in all my training and experiences. I am so glad I can now say I am following in His footsteps and therefore I am a teacher come from God (John 3:2).
What a difference!
Would you please join me? If you would make a difference there are some things you must know and believe.
- To Make a Difference You Must Know Your Mission:
A Christian teacher, to be effective, must have a sense of mission. You must know without a shadow of a doubt why you are here. Jesus was able to quickly and succinctly state His mission. “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). You should also be able to do the same.
If you have a sense of mission it will be the driving force in your life. It will take you through the difficult and discouraging times. Apostle Paul had a sense of mission before he met Jesus. After meeting Him that day on the Damascus road his mission changed. Just as the mission to purge the land of Christianity was the driving force before, now the cause of Christ drove him. “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). David asked his cowardly brothers, “Is there not a cause?” A cause will give you a reason for which to live, and a reason for which to die.
You, as did Jesus, must have a sense of calling. “…for this cause came I unto this hour” (John 12:27). You must know without a shadow of a doubt that you are in the will of God. With the Christian teacher you know “… my doctrine is not mine but his that sent me” (John 7:16). It is the sense that you are His conduit that keeps you teaching. There are many discouraging times in a teacher’s life, but one of the hardest things to accept is that you seldom see the results of your labor. I love to build with wood and make stain glass windows; but I don’t know how long I could keep on going if I could not step back and admire my work.
“So is the Kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground: and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ears, after that the full corn in the ear” (Mark 4:26- 28). The Bible tells us that one soweth, and another reapeth (John 4:37). It is given to you, the teacher, the task of digging, sowing and weeding, but the crop comes many years later—maybe to someone else. The crop involving people takes much longer and takes much more patience. In fact, if it wasn’t for this sense of mission and this strong sense of calling, no teacher would continue teaching.
- To Make a Difference You Must Believe:
- The teacher must believe in the unmeasurable worth of each and every student.
“For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matthew 16:26).
It is so easy when working with the crowd to forget the individual. Even though the Bible tells us Jesus had compassion on the multitudes his greatest lessons were taught to individuals such as Nicodemus and the woman at the well.
- The teacher must believe that the lesson is mandatory.
This was one of the main reason I left public education. I stopped believing what was being taught was a life or death issue. When you lose faith in your lesson, it is time to get out and find a lesson you believe in; one which will pay dividends for eternity.
Knowledge is doubling every eighteen months the last time I heard. This means knowledge will triple from the time a student enters college until he gets his baccalaureate degree four years later. Technology is developing so fast that the job skills we are teaching will be outdated in ten years. The jobs we are training them for will not be there when they get out of school. The social skills we are teaching are not keeping our young people from breaking the law, or destroying themselves with drugs and sex. Other than the need to read and write and to solve simple problems we are fifty years behind.
Even though the knowledge of this world is increasing in uncontrollable measure there are still spiritual lessons this world is crying out for. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge… “(Hosea 4:6). What knowledge? In verse one of this chapter, it tells us: “Hear the word of the Lord… “The people need to know truth, they need to experience mercy, and they need to have knowledge of God “in the land.” A teacher must believe that his lesson is important and necessary. As a Christian teacher you can be assured that your message is needed. “The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).
- The teacher must believe that the student cannot fully understand the lesson unless the teacher explains it.
“And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said How can I except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him” (Acts 8:30-31). I know there may be a place for videos and program learning in education, but they must never take the place of the teacher. We would never consider taking the preacher out of the proclamation of the message. We must never remove the teacher from the learning act.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher… so then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:14-17).
If you take the teacher out of the mix of learning, learning slows. If the teacher is not a necessary component why would the Holy Spirit ask Philip to leave a revival in Samaria to join the Ethiopian eunuch since he already had the lesson with the scriptures in front of him?
It tells us that even Apollos “… an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures” needed Aquilla and Priscilla to take him” unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly “Acts 18:24- 26).
If you are going to be effective you must believe you are absolutely needed and that by your involvement, by being there, you really make a difference. The master teacher has that certain aura about him which says: “I can teach you. I can help you understand. Let me teach you.” You must believe that since you are a teacher, you are important. You have been sent from God. You will have God’s guidance and you will have God’s help as you are used as an instrument to rightly divide the word.
- The teacher must believe in the power of the Word.
You recognize God as the source of all knowledge and wisdom. You reject all knowledge that contradicts or depends solely on men’s invention. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings and oppositions of science falsely so called” (I Timothy 6:20).
We do not reject education and knowledge for we know that all true science or any other subject, will line up with the Word of God. As a Christian we recognize that all the problems of this world are inherently spiritual and that by facing spiritual issues first, the majority of man’s problems will also be solved. We cannot separate education from God. We cannot take prayer and the Bible out of the schools and still have true understanding and wisdom.
- To Make a Difference the Teacher must Die to Self:
If you would make a difference you must die out to self and ambition. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).
Death is not something we relish. We seem to have a built-in instinct to protect ourselves and our interest. It is not natural for us to put any cause above our own interest but if we want to really live a full and rewarding life we must invest all that we are and all that we have in the cause of Jesus Christ. It is a cause which is bigger than we are and will last for eternity.
If you want to make a difference in this life for Jesus Christ consider the teaching ministry. If you want to make a difference for eternity grab on to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a cause worth living for and a cause worth dying for. Believe in your calling. Believe in the teaching ministry. Believe in a student learning a life changing lesson, explained by a dedicated and God called teacher. Believe you are that teacher sent from God. Most importantly, believe in the effectiveness of the Word of God to change a man and his total environment.
It is not the critic who counts; Not the person who points out how the strong have stumbled, Or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; Who strives valiantly; Who errs and comes up short again, and again; Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions And spends himself in a worthy cause; Who at the best knows in the end The triumph of high achievements And who at the worst, If he fails, At least fails while daring greatly; So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls Who know neither victory not defeat?
– Source Unknown
If you want make a Difference Teach.
This article “Teach…If You Want as Make a Difference” was taken from “Teaching as Jesus Taught” by David Reynolds.