By Ruth Mendoza
Para leer la versión en español haga clic aquí.
Fear. Doubt. Uncertainty. With the appalling events that have occurred recently and the shortage of educators across the nation, going back to school seems dreadful this year.
I have taught for twenty years and each year has presented its own challenges. The thought of leaving education for good has crossed my mind several times. I even have a list of the reasons I should leave: the stress; the amount of work I bring home; the lack of discipline from some parents and administrators; having to walk on eggshells when expressing my opinion; the lack of physical security, and my list could go on and on and on. There have been moments that have felt like a walk in the wilderness, where I have been neglected and left to fend for myself and there have been fewer moments where I have felt the support from colleagues and leaders.
However, when I walk down the empty hallway as the new year commences, I can’t help but think about the upcoming students and the privilege I will have to teach them.
A new school year means a new opportunity to shine the light of Christ on the face of a new generation. This cannot be done if I let the past experiences dwell in my heart and mind. Thinking of the upcoming school year, I am reminded of verses 18-19 in Isaiah 43, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” God never stops working and has a higher purpose for our lives. The remnants of yesterday are still fresh in our minds. I don’t intend to lessen the pain of the victims or the suffering of teachers whose mental health has been impacted by the strain of the education system.
I do, however, want to encourage my fellow Christian teachers to trust God’s sovereign plan as we enter this new season in our teaching career. It is so easy to get lost in the darkness of all that is happening and lose sight of the reason we chose this career: to see new generations flourish. Let’s allow that which is troubling to compel us into the new school year beaming brighter than ever.
If you are a believer, you understand this key concept stated in Spurgeon’s Light. Fire. Faith. Life, “The children of the light prefer the joy of the Lord for they find it to be their strength.” We must not allow the darkness, nor the prince of darkness, dim the light God bestowed upon us through Christ. Our lights, as educators, can easily be dimmed when we welcome negativity into our life, let stress control our decisions, overlook not just our needs but our students’ needs as well. It can get dark for us when we do not maintain a healthy relationship with God and others. In his book, Be Light (p. 57), Reverend Samuel Rodriguez sums up Spurgeon’s sermon quoted above:
Spurgeon…argued that God’s light is reflected in us as we let the light of knowledge, the power of joy, and the gleaming beauty of truth shine through us. He knew that darkness always threatens to break into our lives, but he reminded us that those who believe the doctrines of grace and have the bearings of God’s truth will know what and where they are.
In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus clearly lets us know that we are the light of the world that cannot be hidden. We are to let our lights shine so that others can see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. Let me encourage you to heed Spurgeon’s words “Get plenty of light, brethren, and when you have obtained it, give it out.”
Fellow educators, our students need us! They need light amid the darkness the world entices them with. I urge you to stand as tall as a lighthouse and beam those rays of Christ’s light over your students. Do so extending God’s grace while putting forth the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
For those who are not educators, I ask for your earnest prayer as this school year begins. Please pray for:
- Teachers in your community. Pray for wisdom as they make decisions, pray peace and unity over their families and strength in any struggle they might be facing. Pray for their students and families whom they will serve this year. Pray for protection as they drive to school and back home. Pray for their spiritual growth.
- The support system in the school. This includes paraprofessionals, administrators and staff, custodians, and parents.
- Pray for churches to volunteer and bring an outreach program to the schools in our communities.
- Pray for salvation of those who have yet to hear or accept Christ’s redeeming love.
As the new school year starts, let’s embrace the opportunity to shine Christ’s light either by serving faithfully as teachers, or by praying fervently for all the ones who will be going back to school this year.
Ruth Mendoza, BSIS, M. Ed, has been an educator for 20 years, she also serves as the Hispanic Ministries contractor for WMU of TX. Being born into a pastoral family, she continues to serve faithfully in ministry in East Texas. Ruth is also a previous CLLI student.