The Front Line in Education
By Donald Clark
I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these [youth]….
Last spring, we educators primarily took a back seat to the COVID-19 pandemic where, like the Wizard of Oz in the safety of our own living rooms and dining rooms, we conducted Zoom lessons and posted assignments on district websites for the students. For many of us, this has now changed. We are being called to the front lines where doctors, nurses, EMTs, delivery service personnel, grocery store employees and many others have been since the inception of this crisis.
Our emotional responses are varied, just like soldiers being called to the front lines of a life and death battle. Some of us are courageously anxious to get back and meet the students face to face to encourage and help lead them through this crisis and help them acquire skills which were lost last spring. We want to provide services for the students so their parents can go back to work to feed, clothe and house their families. Some of us are fearfully anxious and concerned about our own health and the health of the students, parents, and grandparents in the homes to whom non-symptomatic children may spread the disease. Most of us are experiencing both of these emotions to varying degrees.
The Bible gives us some role models for workers being called by God to the front lines of life and death battles. Perhaps the best example is Joshua. After 40 years as the assistant superintendent of Desert Wandering ISD, Joshua was called to take over the top leadership position and go to the front line of a battle to enter the Promised Land. While Joshua was moving toward this front line, God told Joshua, as He is telling educators today, “I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these [youth]….” (Joshua 1:5-6).
While on that road to the front line, Joshua also met a warrior angel. When Joshua asked him, “Whose side are you on – mine or the enemies?” the angel replied, “Neither, I am on the side of the Lord” (Joshua 5:13-15). The angel told Joshua to take off his sandals because the place where he was standing was holy ground.
When people ask you, “Whose side are you on – those who are for staying home and continuing online lessons or those who want to go back to school with students?”, what is your response? Is it, “Neither, I am on the side of the Lord”?
Before going into his first battle, Joshua did not use research-based data. He did not check the history books to see how the town of Jericho had been captured before and then follow these examples. He inquired of the Lord, who told him how to fight the battle at the front line, which was the city of Jericho, by doing something new—circling the city numerous times, blowing trumpets and shouting (Joshua 6).
In the next several weeks or months as you march to the front line, hold onto and affirm the following truths:
- I am strong and courageous because of God’s presence in me and His promise to be with me always.
- I am not alone in this battle and the Lord has mighty warrior angels to assist me.
- Whether teaching from my living room or the school classroom, I am standing on holy ground and God has ordained that I am here to serve Him first. (Suggestion: take off your shoes each day before you teach for a period of time to remind yourself of that fact.)
- I must spend time with the Lord and inquire of Him. I understand He may call me to do something in a different way that is new and not research-based. I must write down His instructions and share them with a co-worker who will help hold me accountable to God.
Let Us Agree in Prayer :
Jesus, grant us strength and courage. Thank you for always being with us in this crisis at home and school. Speak to us as we seek you first and spend time alone inquiring of you. Open us to your new ideas and strategies.
Donald Clark is a thirty-three-year public educator of special needs students. He is the founder of the CEAI Houston Area Network and has been its Director for over twenty years. He has received the Texas Lifetime Achievement Award from the HEB Excellence in Education program and has received a state congressional commendation for his work with youth and educators. He has written numerous collections of educator devotionals such as Teacher Take Courage!, The Carpenter’s Classroom and Get Off the Bus. He has been published in the Teachers of Vision magazine and his work featured in Around the Word in 180 Days. He recently launched a new book, Peemail–Pet’s Healing Power, which is available on Amazon.