This article by Jack Huizenga of the Canadian Reformed Teachers’ College was published in Clarion, April 6 2018, and is republished here with the writer’s kind permission. It applies as much to the FRCA and their John Calvin Schools in Australia as to the needs in our Canadian sister churches and their schools.
Praying for Christian school teachers
Even a casual perusal of the back pages of the Clarion or the Christian Renewal reveals the pressing need for Reformed Christian school teachers. Much like the finger of Uncle Sam pointing out at us declaring, “We need you!” so too these ads for Christian school teachers impress upon us a great need. At this time of year, principals and school board directors lift their prayers to God that He would provide Christian men and women who would take up the call to teach covenant children in the fear of the Lord at their local school. Prayer is the chief part of the thankfulness which God requires of us. Our covenant God wants us to call upon Him, to acknowledge that we depend upon Him for all that we need in order to live faithfully before His face. It is fitting, therefore, that we earnestly lay the need for Christian school teachers before our Father in heaven.
I would argue that Christian education is another part of the thankfulness which God requires of us. The Psalmist declares “Behold, children are a heritage of the Lord” (Ps.127:3). God entrusts these covenant children to our care that we would raise them in such a way that they would know their sin and misery, that they are set free through the blood of Jesus, and that we are called to live thankfully in all areas of our life. Therefore, we establish and maintain Christian schools so that our children would also learn in school that God has created them, loves them, and wants them to have a meaningful relationship with Him; that Jesus died for them and that He is now Lord over all things; and that the Holy Spirit is equipping them for the battle that is raging for their hearts. In short, these fundamental teachings that live in our homes and churches must echo in our classrooms.
We need teachers
To achieve this core goal of Christian education our schools need special people, who are not only equipped to teach the academic content – the knowledge, skills, and attitudes within the curriculum – but who are also committed Christians who can testify of the grace of God in their lives and the need to cling to Him in all that we do. We need teachers who can help little ones learn how to read and to write, teachers who can inspire children to be creative in art and languages, and teachers who can challenge young people to critically think as they solve complex math problems or examine various worldviews. But teachers do more – they motivate, they disciple and they model a love for learning. Christian school teachers help children to live faithfully today while equipping them to live faithfully tomorrow.
Unlike the popular misrepresentation that teaching is for those who can’t do other things, being a Christian school teacher is a high calling. Scripture testifies to this high calling by demonstrating that God gifts some individuals within the church to become teachers who in turn equip others to come to a fuller knowledge of Him (Ephesians 4:11, Romans 12:7, 1Corinthians 12:28). Moreover, those who have this calling are held to a higher standard lest what they say cause those whom they instruct to stumble (James 3:1). We are mindful here of our Saviour’s rebuke to not hinder the little ones from coming to Him (Matthew 19:14). On the contrary, God uses Christian school teachers to remove those ideas and worldviews that would cause covenant children to stumble, replacing them with biblical ideas and a worldview that allows them to see their Saviour.
Pray and work
With such a great need and such an important calling, what can we do individually and as a covenant community? Ora et labora – pray and work. We must pray for our Christian school teachers – unceasingly – that they would faithfully and fervently teach God’s children. Our prayers will translate into action through the many different ways we support our teachers and uphold the integrity of the profession. Do we speak about the importance of Christian school teachers with our youth? As our young people wrestle with post-secondary plans in prayer, parents, teachers, and pastors should encourage some individuals to consider whether the Lord is leading them to become a teacher. To confirm this inclination, perhaps these individuals could spend part of a day helping out in a classroom or better yet, they could arrange for a coop placement in a Christian school classroom. Prayer is also needed for those young people who are determined to become a teacher. Preparing to become a teacher may take up to 5 years, so we can pray with them for patience and perseverance, encouraging them in the knowledge that they are pursuing a worthy calling.
As a covenant community we also have a responsibility to pray and work together in order to promote this profession. It’s not just high school students who might consider a calling to become a Christian school teacher. For some, the call may come later in life, after having obtained an undergraduate degree in some area of interest. Do we know someone whom we think may be gifted for teaching? Perhaps they need a word of encouragement to reinforce an inclination they have to become a teacher. These individuals will need more than just prayer as they take up their studies to become a teacher. Here too, as a covenant community we need to find ways to support these individuals and their families for the duration of the teacher education program. Another opportunity to promote the profession of teaching in Christian schools occurs at annual school membership meetings. We could use these occasions to showcase the profession and pray together as a school community that God would continue to provide teachers for our children. Finally, we would do well, as some church communities have done, to call for a prayer service to thank God for the gift of Christian education and to specifically pray for the pressing need for Christian school teachers. In all of these ways, as we pray and work together for Christian education, we may be assured that through Christ our Lord, God will hear our prayers as He has promised us. The need is great. Let’s pray.