But I’m ‘Just’ a Teacher
By Kylee Wray Mitchell
Over the summer, my church did a series based on some of the lessons of the beloved TV personality Mr. Rogers.
One moment in particular stands out in my memory as relevant to us as educators. My pastor said that although Fred Rogers never openly discussed his faith on air, his beliefs permeated every choice he made on the television program.
If you’re a public education teacher, you know full well we are not allowed to overtly discuss our faith. However, the example of Mr. Rogers is one we can draw inspiration from going into this school year.
“Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:20)
We don’t have to stand in front of our classrooms and announce, “Good morning. I’m Mrs. Mitchell, and I am here to share the gospel.” First of all, I’d probably lose my job. And secondly, I probably wouldn’t be very successful reaching my students for Christ.
Generation Z is growing up in the “post-modern” world. It is a confusing and fast-paced time filled with brainwashing social media and encouragements to “find their truth”: a truth that is a constantly moving target. They’re lost. They’re disconnected from a bedrock of truth. And these students spend more time during their week with us than they do anywhere else.
So, no, you are not “just” a teacher. You are a walking, talking example of what Christ can do for them. You are a billboard for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You never have to mention Jesus by name to be His hands and feet.
Your students should be able to watch your interactions with themselves and others and know you are set apart. You can make them question what is so different about this teacher? Why does he or she show grace when I mess up? Why does this teacher turn my mistakes into teachable moments? Why does that classroom feel like a place I can belong?
It’s all because that classroom is the mission field of a Christian educator, and the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
So, allow me to challenge you, brothers and sisters in Christ, to consider what changes you can make this year to allow God to direct your choices in the classroom. Take time to pray that you will be an empty vessel used to further His kingdom and to share the gospel (possibly without ever mentioning it at all).
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)
So, in the face of COVID, in the face of the gathering darkness, in spite of the usual teacher troubles of paperwork and buzz words, fix your eyes on the prize: fulfill God’s calling on your life. You might not ever see a student accept Jesus in your classroom, but you may help hundreds do so down the line because of the seeds you have sown by Christ working through you.
Have a wonderful year, and may God bless you and keep you.
My love to you all. ❤️
I am a high school English teacher in southern central Alabama. I am originally from a small town in north Alabama called Arab, but after meeting my husband in college, I never moved back. We have been married for 8 years and have 3 children—Luke, Caroline, and Lincoln. I have been teaching for 5 years now, and it is one of the greatest joys in my life.