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Life-Giving Teacher

By May 4, 2022SavED by Grace

Life-Giving Teacher

By Althea Gordon-Scott

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In our teaching practice, we are often encouraged to use student-centered teaching instead of the teacher-centered approach. However, I contend that we should move from being merely student-centered to life-giving teachers. John 1:4 states, In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” Before life can flow through us, we need to remember that Christ is the One who enables us to be life-giving educators. Here are three ways we can become more life-giving in our teaching. 

  1. Stop comparing ourselves to others. We often compare ourselves to others. We wish we could be like the teacher who seems to be doing better than we are in our teaching practices. However, comparison causes discontentment in our hearts and our lives. It prevents us from appreciating the uniqueness that we possess. In our discontentment, we dishonor and discredit God’s work, his masterpiece, which is us. God created us with specific attributes to fulfill the purpose He has planned for us. Our vocation may look similar to someone else’s, but it is not the same. God wants us to fulfill His call on our lives in a way that utilizes the unique composition of skills, talents, intellectual acuity, and personality traits that He gave to us. God wants our lives and teaching to be different from anyone else’s. To prevent falling into the traps of discontentment and discouragement, we need to trust in God’s word. God’s word reminds us of who God is and who we are. When we overlook or turn away from God’s word, we get disoriented about who we are and what God has called us to do. 
  2. Embrace increased surrender. As Christians we might think we are fully surrendered to God, but if we truly peel back the layers of our lives, the opposite can be found. It is not that there is no surrender, but total surrender is not yet fully realized in our lives. Unfortunately, many times we are busy doing God’s work (teaching and other things), while neglecting His perfect will. Though we have good intentions, we don’t know His will because we have not surrendered. The only way to know God’s will is to spend time with Him.  When we immerse ourselves in God’s presence consistently, we will better value his partnership with us in our leadership and teaching adventures. God is the one who will give us insight, wisdom, innovation, and everything we need to live out His purpose in our lives when we surrender to Him. We do not have to figure out everything on our own. 
  3. Grow vibrant environments for the adults and students we lead. For many of us, it’s the relationships with the adults on campus that can be the most challenging. Navigating politics and personalities in a non-Christian environment can be tricky. It is important that we do not lean on our own thinking, but trust God for His wisdom and direction (Proverbs 3:5-6). It is important for us to develop the habit of praying instead of complaining when things get hard. It would be beneficial for us to be intentional about  praying for our schools, the school leaders, and for God to help us represent him well in every situation. 

For our students, developing them into healthy life-giving students should be our most important priority. Our students should not exist in drudgery under our leadership. Even though they might have challenging responsibilities, the environment that we create can facilitate engagement and enjoyment while tackling difficult tasks. A positive environment can be fostered with kind words, being gracious and grateful, and showing genuine care about their well-being. Dealing with young people often involves discipline and character building. Sometimes the frustration with a child who is disrespectful, disobedient, or inattentive can cause us to say things in a way that crushes the spirit instead of building up. We should aim to become better listeners and observers to discern what is going on. It is imperative that we focus less on the surface issues or behaviors and speak more to the heart issues to facilitate healthy growth academically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Becoming a life-giving teacher will take intentionality and hard work. However, we have God as our partner to help us on this amazing and challenging journey. I am sure that there are more things we could do to become life-giving teachers. What else would you add to the suggestions in this blog?

Many of the core ideas in this blog are from:
Reagin, T. (2018) The Life-Giving Leader: Learning to Lead from Your Truest Self. WaterBrook.

Althea is a public-school educator who has taught high school students for over 12 years. Her call is to validate, encourage, empower, and inspire people, especially young people, to find their true identity, live out their purpose, and reach their full potential. In addition to being a public-school educator, Althea is a licensed minister, wife, and mother.

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