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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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Teaching Well is Teaching Good

Posted by admin in August 18th, 2009
Published in obedience, prayer

It’s back to school time! Swoosh…summer’s gone. Unbelievable. We are now looking at the 2009-2010 academic year. Exciting stuff.

Some folks who read this old blog of mine are teachers, college professors, university instructors, and even homeschoolers. To celebrate this back-to-school season, I want to share a four part series with you on teaching like Jesus, which is actually an excerpt from Mike’s and my upcoming book. Hope you enjoy. Hope it encourages all the teachers out there. Here’s part one.

In 1991, Dr. Cliff and Mary Schimmels left the US to go and teach at Kiev State Pedagogical University in Ukraine. Communism had just collapsed and living in the former Soviet state wasn’t all that easy. Cliff and Mary knew times were tough, but they believed God had called them to teach, work alongside colleagues and do all that they could to encourage both administrators and students in Kiev.

Within the first few weeks of living in their new home, the Schimmels made friends with their students, colleagues and neighbors. They were like that. Friendly. Warm. Nice to be around. They even had a few occasions to share their faith and love for Christ with people, but they were never preachy or manipulative with their witnessing. It flowed naturally out of their lives and their relationships.

Cliff and Mary were excellent teachers. The best I’ve ever known. They were always prepared for class, always on time, always knew their stuff and they truly had hearts for their students. They loved them. They prayed for them—each one by name. They worked hard to minister to them through teaching, mentoring, excellence in the classroom, building relationships and going beyond the call of duty helping colleagues and university administration with restructuring and reform. They worked hard. They were in a word: servants.

One Ukrainian colleague, Maria, a university English professor, liked Mary a lot and really enjoyed attending Mary’s classes from time to time, whenever her schedule permitted. Once Christianity and faith had come up in a conversation with Maria, without forcing the conversation, Mary explained the difference Christ had made in her life and her love for God.

One day after class, frustrated by students’ exam-driven approach to learning, Mary was worried that her students weren’t grasping important concepts for becoming good English teachers. She walked into the campus office she shared with Cliff and declared, “I am having a very bad day!” What Mary didn’t know was that Maria, who had just attended Mary’s lecture, was in the office visiting, but was sitting behind the door just out of Mary’s view.

Maria surprised her as she said in a beautiful Ukrainian accent, “Oh no Mary! You have had a very good day.”

Mary thought about the uncomfortable process of getting dressed that morning without any hot running water; she remembered her struggle to get on the overcrowded, unheated bus to the university, and she thought of the frustration she felt over her students’ obsession with passing national exams instead of life-long learning. But she kept these thoughts to herself and gently asked Maria, “Why do you say that?”

Maria continued, “I say that you have had very good day today because while I watched you teach this morning, I decided to ask Jesus into my heart.”

Mary was amazed. She had not mentioned Jesus in her lecture; she hadn’t quoted the Bible or presented The Four Spiritual Laws in class. She was thrilled to hear Maria’s news, but was surprised and confused by how it happened.

“Maria, that’s great!” Mary said. “But how did my teaching help you to do that?”

Maria explained, “You are such a good teacher. Your love for your students shows, and you have such a strong desire for them to learn. When I saw you teaching today, I looked at your love and the peace on your face and I said to God, ‘I want you to be my God the way you are Mary’s God. I want to be a teacher like her.’ So, I asked Him to come into my heart.”

For each Christian teacher that walks into the classroom today please remember that in Christ Jesus there is no separation between secular and sacred. All truth is God’s truth and He anoints mathematics as well as Bible translation. English grammar is as important to God as hermeneutics or homiletics. Your classroom is a holy place where the Holy Spirit is at work because you are at work. Though you are never to use the lectern as a pulpit, you are to remember that your work is sacred, a holy calling unto the living God and that walking into that classroom, well prepared, prayed up, you are worshiping God through your work and your life. There is a big difference between your teaching and the teaching of a non-believer. Your teaching is bringing glory to God and that has an eternal impact on students whether you know it or not; whether you see it or not. Pray for them, love them, ask God to give you direction for lesson plans and creative ways to present ideas. This is your calling and it is holy. It is significant. God’s presence comes into that classroom as you honor Him through your teaching and invite Him to make your classroom His sanctuary. Be strong, confident in the Lord and be encouraged. You are making a difference because Christ is working in and through you.

Maria’s story reminds us that how we teach makes a tremendous impact on others—either for good or for bad. In order for us to be an expression of God’s love and truth in the classroom we must teach well. And teaching well is how we teach students what is good.

Five years after Mary left Ukraine, Maria died from radiation exposure at Chernobyl. Mary’s teaching well made an eternal difference in Maria’s life. Through Mary Maria learned what is truly Good.

Tomorrow, I’ll look at Jesus as the Model Teacher. His methods, His relationships with students, His knowledge and expertise, His servant attitude and His earnest prayer for students—looking at Jesus as our Model Teacher, we can better emulate Him in the classroom. I’m praying for teachers everywhere. May this be your best year ever! Peace.

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198. Barbie Buckner said,
August 18th, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Thank you for sharing. How appropriate and what a tremendous reminder.

Doc taught me so much about witnessing by how I live and not by what I say. This has brought back many, many memories.

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588. Zivile said,
January 18th, 2013 at 7:49 am

I need to see it! I want to see it in reality! I have never had a Christian professor…I have never had an example of real work with students in a class. It’s so interesting! When I’m reading these posts about teaching the word “teacher” is no longer a swear-word for me.

Thank you so much dear Teri!

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