An Anabaptist Resource for Teaching and Learning
“If only we didn’t have to fight for souls!” This was the lamentation of a teacher friend of mine a number of years ago after a conversation on the difficulties we were facing with some of our students. It summed up our discussion quite well. As Christian school teachers, we are indeed engaged in a battle for the souls of our students, and at times the warfare becomes intense.
But, friends, we are not alone or unequipped in this battle! We have allies, we have weapons, and we have a champion Leader.
I believe one of the most insidious tools of the devil is to make you believe that you are all alone, and that it is up to you to figure things out on your own. He wants you to think that when a challenging need arises in your classroom, it is up to you to be the savior, the knight in shining armor who slays the dragon. And then when you find yourself unable to win the battle, he is more than ready to storm you with feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
It is not all up to you. If you are part of a good Christian school community, you are blessed with many allies, and the most important ones are the parents of your students. I can think of times over the years when I could have solved problems more quickly and easily if I had been proactive in enlisting the help of my parent allies. Raising children to be committed disciples of Christ is an astronomical task, and by sending their children to your school, parents are acknowledging that they need help with this job. Partnering effectively with parents in the battle for children’s souls is powerful, and I believe it is a beautiful example of the way Christian community is intended to work.
Besides parents, you probably have a principal, board members, and co-teachers as your allies. Make use of them. I am grateful for fellow staff members who give advice and encouragement, or sometimes even just commiseration. I felt the absence of this keenly when I was the only teacher in a small school, and so I sympathize with you if that is your situation. Perhaps you can find ways to connect with teachers from other schools. Teacher friends are wonderful allies.
In this battle for the souls of our children, we are also wonderfully equipped with the armor and weapons described in Ephesians 6, and we have a champion Leader to guide us. We have God’s Word, His Spirit, and the powerful weapon of prayer. How often do you pray for each of your students by name? When challenges arise in your classroom, do you naturally turn to prayer first, or is it a last resort? As we follow Jesus and are continually formed more and more into His image, we grow in our ability to fight spiritual battles well.
Never give up hope for any of your students, even when it seems that nothing is making any difference. The Holy Spirit is at work in their lives, even when we don’t see it, and we need to trust that work. One of my former students is currently serving a prison sentence for crimes he committed, but I believe that God still has great plans for him and that this is not the end of his story.
Also, I recently experienced the joy of seeing some of my former students make a public commitment to Jesus through baptism, and I listened to their testimonies. It so happens that several of them were the main characters in the discussion that I referenced in the beginning of this post. Fighting for souls is never easy, but we can battle courageously as we keep our eyes on Jesus and let our hearts be filled with hope.
CONTRIBUTOR: Rosalie Beiler
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