If you take the time to think about the impact that teachers have had in your life, you may be surprised. But one thing that you can conclude in such an exercise is that you are the person you are, by and large, because of the influence of teachers throughout your life.
For me, I can point to eight different teachers throughout my life that had an impact on my educational experience.
Mrs. Jozsa was my seventh grade English teacher at St. Henry Junior High School in Cleveland. She was an interesting person with a lot of character, and she was a character, too. What I learned from her was that I didn’t know as much English as I thought I did. After what I thought was a successful stint in Major Work courses in the third through sixth grade, I promptly earned a C+ in English for my first grading period under Mrs. Jozsa. I learned from that experience that what I thought I knew was hardly enough to move to the next level. My parents were flabbergasted, and I was surprised, too, but it caused me to dig a little deeper in my studies at a very important time in my life. She took her job very seriously, and was always encouraging. By the time I finished her class, I received an “A” in English. (If you want some perspective as to how long ago this was for me, the brand new hit song during that year was Let’s Stay Together by Al Green).
My first English teacher in the ninth grade at Chanel High School was Fr. James. He was a pleasant, older gentleman with white hair, and his classes were legendary because he would crack open the windows of his classroom during the winter months, which according to his theory, would keep all of his students awake and keep their blood pumping. My theory was that I was freezing to death and that I would need someone to pump my chest to revive me. Anyway, you wouldn’t dare fall asleep in his class, or you might have been carried out on a stretcher due to hypothermia. My class motto for Fr. James was “stay awake…stay alive.”
It got better from there. I enjoyed my class experiences in 11th and 12th grade with Mr. Edward Gotch (Algebra and Calculus) and in 12th grade with Mr. Bruce Domski, who taught A.P. English. Our big book for the year was to read and review The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My senior year of high school was my breakout year as I had my best GPA and my best overall experience as a student.
I will never forget Dr. Vincent McHale, who was my Political Science teacher at Case Western Reserve University. He was so engaging that his classes really challenged my approach to national and international affairs, and I will never forget his comment that there were so many lawyers in the field at that time that some of them will be marching off of cliffs for a lack of work. I made up my mind, at that moment, that I was NOT going to law school.
Even in my adulthood, my encounters during my Master’s program at Crown College with Dr. James Cowman and Dr. Gary Keisling were very special and formative as I grew in my studies. Finally, my most recent Clinical Pastoral Education class with Fred Madren in Indianapolis made me helped me to reflect more about who I was as an individual in learning more about becoming a chaplain. In any vocational environment, it is important for you to know who you are as a person before you can reach out and effectively help someone else.
What I hope you can see from my experience is that teachers do a lot more than just teach subjects. They provide all sorts of wisdom and knowledge—from their own education and from personal experiences—that shape the lives of everyone that they come into contact with. Many teachers, whether they know it or not, are always providing this wisdom and knowledge—both inside and outside of the classroom.
Teaching is a God-given talent and ability. It is referenced in Scripture as one of the gifts referenced within the body of Christ:
Romans 12:6-8 NIV
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Interestingly, teachers use all of these attributes in carrying out their responsibilities: service, encouragement, giving, leadership and mercy. We will look at one of these attributes—leadership. Leaders perform their duties with care and concern for those who they are responsible for.
Teachers are leaders.
The Bible stresses the importance of gaining wisdom and knowledge, and in listening to others who have their own experiences to share with you. Jesus Christ spent the better part of two years giving instruction to His disciples. He was a patient teacher in the same way as Scripture is defined:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
The disciples were being trained by Jesus Christ for a very good reason—they were to be the ones who would carry forth the Good News after Christ would leave them. He was the ultimate Teacher (he was called “Rabbi” in Scripture, which means “Teacher.”) Jesus provided the instruction and later “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). Their ministry, as well as anyone’s ministry, has to begin and continue with teaching, and not only teaching, but being open to be taught, as well.
Teachers share this information freely and openly, and it is good and beneficial to be a teacher of not only God’s Word, but in all areas of life.
Teachers are leaders.
Teaching carries with it a tremendous responsibility. Teaching is not for everyone.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
Judged by who? Well, by God Himself. Whether you are teaching the Bible from Sunday school or from the pulpit, or a college professor or high school instructor, you are charged with making sure that whoever you are teaching is guided in the right direction. Though this verse to follow is intended for those who mislead young people causing them to move away from Jesus Christ, you get the idea of its overall message:
Luke 17:1-2 HCSB
He said to His disciples, “Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble.
Now you get the grasp of how this God-given attribute has a great responsibility. It is not to be taken lightly.
Teachers are leaders. They are meant to be leaders. They are an important part of God’s creation. They teach because they are born to teach others, and they do it for the love of it.
Teachers lead because they possess these six attributes, of which each begin with the letters from the word LEADER.
First, for the L in leader, teachers are “learners.”
A good teacher is willing to learn from others. It’s logical, of course, but not all teachers, when they think they know it all, remain teachable.
A good teacher knows that he or she does not know it all. A good bible teacher is always reading and studying. It’s important to stay humble in order to be open to learning more, and as a result, doing more for your students.
Titus 2:7-8 ESV
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Next, the E in leader refers to being “energetic.”
An effective teacher is one who consistently approaches their job with energy. A teacher with energy is infectious, in a positive way, to his or her students. It has an amazing effect as it indicates to the student that learning is fun and exciting, and that the subject is very interesting. There is nothing wrong with making the learning experience a happy and memorable one!
The A in leader refers to “application,” as in applying knowledge in your instruction. Your knowledge may indeed be from your own training, but effective teaching and communication also involves sharing your own personal experiences or providing examples to round out the instruction process. A great lesson in Scripture is a demonstration of love is the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. It was the perfect way to describe how a person loves God and also a neighbor.
The D in leader refers to “devotion.” Devotion is loving your work as a teacher, and having a devotion for your students. There is something to be said about having an emotional connection with the work you do. If it is used properly, it can have a dynamic effect within the classroom! Teachers love what they do, and do what they love!
The second E in leader is for “expecting greatness.”
Teachers are to strive for the best. As Jesus wants each of us to be our best in Christ, teachers must also want their students to pursue excellence. Excellence is the realization of one’s pursuit of greatness. Teachers must have high expectations for themselves as well as their students. Success breeds success, and teachers are the ultimate catalysts for a student’s drive to be as good as one can be.
1 Timothy 4:11
Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them.
Finally, the R in leader stands for “results-oriented.” A teacher wants to see students progress over time and, at the same time, gain more confidence in their own abilities. Their students reflect a love for learning that will become more and more evident as they show their progress.
Luke 6:40 HCSB
The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
A teacher would like nothing better than to see his or her students become dynamic leaders and professionals. They want the best for them, and that is why teachers set the bar very high in pushing their students to reach for success.
Teachers lead by example.
They are learners.
They are energetic.
They apply their knowledge as they teach.
They are devoted to their jobs.
They expect greatness from their students.
They are results-oriented.
Teachers make sacrifices for the sake of their students. They do what they love and they love what they do.
Teachers build today’s leaders because teachers are leaders.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines