According to C. S. Lewis, all the great saints of Christian history “left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither” (Mere Christianity, pp. 134-135).
The question, then, is practical: how do we aim at Heaven while teaching in the classroom?
1. Seek first the kingdom of God in everything you do. Before we write a lesson plan, respond to an email, discipline a student, or have a conversation with a colleague, we can ask God for guidance. Even if His response is outside of our comfort zones, we can choose to accomplish His plan and purpose for every situation we encounter.
2. Pray through the Lord’s prayer in the context of your daily work. It can sound like this:
Father, may Your Kingdom come here, in this classroom, in these young people's hearts. May Your will be done here, in this heart of mine, in this place where I work. Forgive me my debts as a teacher, Lord—these are the ways I’ve fallen short. Help me to forgive the debts of those who I work with (students, colleagues, parents of students) who have hurt me.
3. Do good for a student, colleague, or parent/guardian. Jesus invites us to practice the kind of giving that will be normative in Heaven: freely, without conceit, without expectation, and just for the joy of it. Here are some of the things I like to do:
- Brag about a student or a colleague to others
- Email a student’s guardians to let them know how much I appreciate their child
- Pull a student aside and share something that I see in him or her that I admire
As we do these practical things on a daily basis in our classrooms, it is important to remember why we’re doing them. We can remember to focus on God’s purpose, not the results. Jesus’ described his own method of teaching as “planting seeds.” Even His teaching didn’t produce immediate world-changing results—it’s been two thousand years since He taught here on Earth, and His teaching still hasn’t reached all parts of the world. So, certainly, we can take heart in accepting that our actions won’t always produce results that we get to see, either. In other words, we can place our hope not in our ability to enact change today but instead in the certainty that the change we’re after—Heaven—is ultimately coming.
Dave Stuart Jr. is a husband and dad who teaches high school students in a small town. He writes about teaching students toward long-term flourishing at DaveStuartJr.com.
Like what you’re reading? Then don’t miss an issue. Subscribe to be notified when the next issue is published.