As I listened to several of our high school faculty challenge the Class of 2016 in the last chapel for our seniors, I was once again reminded of the great opportunity and responsibility we have to the students and families that God allows us to serve and influence through our ministry here at FCS. It also reminds me of the great responsibility of being a teacher, especially a teacher who is called, not only to academic instruction, but to spiritual ministry as a Christian school teacher. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul spoke about God’s calling in the lives of believers, and yes, the calling by God to be a teacher. Ephesians 4: 11-16, “…And He (Jesus) gave some as apostles, some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the Body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature person, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result we are no longer to be children tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but who speak the truth in love….” The testimony of the teachers here at FCS, is that they are willing to speak the truth in love to the students God allows them to influence. Their message to the seniors this past week was a reminder of the high honor and great responsibility it is to be called to teach.
I believe that one of the reasons that teaching is such an honorable calling, is that it requires genuine humility in order to be successful. Biblical humility is simply putting the needs of others first, for which God promises us as believers a special measure of grace in order to practice true humility. James 4:2 “But He gives us more grace.” That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humility is a very subtle quality. There is an old saying that says, “It’s hard to be humble.” Some people seem to live by the motto, “I’m humble, and I’m proud of it.” But the only measure of true humility is to consider what Jesus did for us. We need to follow his example and please God while serving others. I know that by the grace of God, our teachers here at FCS have poured their lives into our seniors, and all of our students as well, with great humbleness and sincerity.
In the world that our seniors are facing as they leave the protection of the Christian school classroom, Christ followers face an increasingly selfish culture of people who are focused on their “rights.” In this culture people lash out at others when they encounter anything that they consider negative, detrimental, or contrary to their own belief system. The result for the recipient of this negativity or mean spiritedness is often being treated unjustly by someone who directs harsh words or opinions at them rather than considering who or what is truly responsible for the issue. Peter talked about the example of Christ in just such a situation. I Peter 2:20-23, “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at Jesus, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly. Although it is never easy or desirable to suffer or endure unjust criticism, when we as Christians receive unjust treatment, it is a privilege, because of what Jesus suffered for us. This is just one of the Biblical lessons our teachers have shared with their students here at FCS this year.
Our seniors have been challenged by their teachers to honor God in their relationships with others throughout their years here. They have been taught that they should desire to walk closer with the Lord each day, not only at school but in every aspect of their lives. As they leave the protective environment of a Christian school classroom, and the teachers who have provided them with spiritual counsel, they must continue to grow in their personal walk with the Lord and not in their own strength. They have been taught to realize that relying on their own strength and abilities will always result in failure and frustration, but that following the plans God has for them will result in true joy and fulfillment.
It shouldn’t be difficult for any of us to understand the basic Biblical truth that we need God every day of our lives in everything that we do. But if you are like me, you struggle daily with trying to take care of things in your own strength. I trust that our students, and especially our seniors, will have learned from their teachers this spiritual truth. I would encourage each of you today to let go and allow God to fulfill His promises in your life. As believers, may we serve in humility and realize that without His strength, the challenges of life are overwhelming. As for the Class of 2016, our teachers have poured their lives into each and every one of them, and will continue to pray and support them long after they have graduated. As a result we are confident that the spiritual work that has been planted within them will bring honor to the Lord, and will be a source of encouragement to our teachers as well.