As I sit on my deck with a cup of tea and a good book, I reflect on the restful days of summer. While these days of refreshing come to a close, questions about the next school year begin to creep into my mind. Who will my students be, and what are their needs? What will the structure of my school year look like, and what new demands will be placed on me? Will I have what it takes to meet the new challenges that my fellow Christian educators and I are facing in education?
If I am not careful, doubt and fear can easily begin to take over. However, as a Christian educator, I am reminded that I am not alone on this journey. This is a job that I get to do with God!
God placed a desire to work with students in each of our hearts. His plan, before creation, was to have us collaborate with Him to impact the next generation. He handpicked us as His ambassadors. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us” (NLT). He works with us to draw others to Him. We were never meant to minister to our students and co-workers alone; rather, we were designed to be co-laborers with Christ as we teach with excellence and promote God’s kingdom where He has placed us—in our schools.
Isn’t it amazing that we serve a God who wants to work with us?
But, as busy educators, we can easily fall prey to the many obstacles and distractions that keep us from staying truly connected to God—our source of eternal hope, strength, and vision. In John 10:10 we learn that Satan’s goal is to “steal and kill and destroy.” Satan attempts to destroy our connection with God through a variety of tactics such as fear, isolation, and distraction. These tactics are all based on lies that Satan tries to use to cripple us professionally, mentally, and spiritually.
How different would our lives look and feel if we replaced these lies with God’s truth and started the new school year full of confidence knowing we can face anything because the God of the universe is with us? With this in mind, how do we avoid Satan’s many lies and connect with God as we begin to dream about and plan for a new school year?
I have found that when I focus on these five practices, my connection with God is strengthened and I see the Holy Spirit working in and through me more and more. I like to refer to them as the “5 Rs”: replace, reflect, routine, rest, and request.
We can replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth. While replacing these lies can be difficult (especially if we have been believing them for some time), God’s truth is more powerful than any lie. We can start by meditating on Scripture when doubts and fears start to creep in. For example, we could keep a journal of Scriptures like Isaiah 41:10, “‘Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.’” We could memorize verses like Matthew 28:20, “‘And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” Biblical truths like these can bring us great encouragement when overcoming Satan’s lies.
As we go through each day, we can pause to reflect on our priorities. We can ask ourselves a simple, yet powerful question: Is this necessary? This question can help us learn when to say “yes” and when to say “no” to activities and opportunities that might distract us from what is most important. In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus offers a great reminder of when to say “yes” when He states, “‘“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’” Taking time to reflect on our priorities allows us to create space for God. When we faithfully give Him this space, He pours into us so that we can pour into others.
Educators know the importance of a good routine in the classroom. Without good routines for daily tasks, a classroom will become chaotic and unproductive. Likewise, as Christian educators, we need good routines that fill our souls and draw us closer to God. These daily regimens can include spending time in conversation with God, reading truth from His Word, and other practices that fill us up and bring us joy. We can consider waking up earlier and implementing practices that draw us closer to God. This might look like playing worship music while making breakfast or driving to school. It could also entail reading a devotional or Scripture over a cup of coffee or tea. Throughout the day, we can ask the Lord to reveal to us how we can partner with Him, and we can listen intently to who or what He puts on our hearts.
We know our bodies need sleep each night, and I’m sure we’ve all benefited from some extra downtime on occasion. In addition, setting aside larger amounts of time for quiet rest is also critical to staying connected with God. We find examples of this type of rest and renewal throughout the Bible, beginning with creation when God rested on the seventh day. Even Jesus went away to be with God to be renewed. We can consider stepping away from work-related duties or thoughts for 24 hours each weekend. We can even set aside quarterly and yearly periods of rest and solitude.
God longs for us to ask for things that align with His heart and purposes through prayer. In Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus says, “‘Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.’” If we want to grow closer to the Lord and stay connected with Him, we can ask Him to increase our hunger for a deeper relationship with Him. We can invite Him into our day. We can request that He go with us into our classrooms and meetings. We can welcome Him into our challenging, mundane, and exhilarating situations. We can converse with Him as we plan, celebrate, and problem-solve. He loves it when we come to Him. He delights in meeting our needs.
Christian educators, God longs to partner with us as we minister to our students and co-workers in our schools. He desires to pour His love into their lives through us as He walks alongside us, granting us wisdom, strength, and encouragement. As we step into a new school year, let’s stay connected to our God as we co-labor with Him to further His kingdom purposes in our schools.
Heather Kohnen is a wife, mom, educator, mentor, and friend. She loves to encourage others to follow their God-given dreams in order to live full, inspiring lives. She is dedicated to encouraging and equipping Christian educators to be ambassadors for Jesus wherever He has placed them.
Like what you’re reading? Then don’t miss an issue. Subscribe to be notified when the next issue is published.