Readings: Ecclesiastes 12:1-7; Romans 12:1-5; Luke 2:41-52
This week, after a five year absence, I walked back into the role of adjunct instructor at a couple of our local universities to teach Education classes to aspiring teachers. It's exhilarating--and tricky. I spend time on the road getting to each location, so some of that time is spent in talks with myself on how to tell them in all earnestness that this will be an over-whelming task they are taking on while tempering that realization enough to keep them in attendance for the next class session. It's enough to scare a person out of a seat--literally.
We're losing the race in education of our students in the United States. More importantly, we're losing the focus of what teaching truly is--a very fine-tuned knowledge of craft and a deep desire for stewardship to others. It has to be both to be effective. Need proof? One need not look far.
The need for renewal in how we share information with others or it will wither away is expressed by a great teacher, Solomon, in Ecclesiastes. He speaks, in a very poetic way, of how aging affects structures, leading us to the symbolism that aging will also affect our mortal bodies and minds...and ideas for the future. If teachers aren't continuously paying attention to their surroundings and rebuilding the focus of the lessons delivered, the lessons grow weaker and weaker and finally fall into the chasm of total ineffectiveness. We must keep up with our craft; mankind is counting on us.
Teaching can take on two forms in our lives--the secular plane and the spiritual plane. Paul suggests that we "be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Then we will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing, and perfect will" (12:2) Not only are we called to constant study, prayer, and contemplation of our spiritual selves, we who teach are also called to learn, learn, and learn to become more competent at our craft. What better way to serve?
In Luke 2:41-52, we find the familiar story of Jesus' first trip to the temple with his parents. You remember the over-all details that he was left behind and, once this was realized by his parents, they back-tracked to pick him up. What they found surprised them. There he was, in the temple, listening intently to and questioning with equal intensity the teachers in the synagogue. An exemplification of a student who yearns to learn. To some, a dream come true; to others, a worst nightmare. So many questions! Such detail!
How humbling to be a teacher at that moment.
This is the equally important part of teaching--stewardship. We are stewards of information and it is our job to serve others to assure they learn the craft and carry on to the next generation. Once I had a professor who, upon his entrance into the classroom, announced that he was there merely to profess his knowledge--it was up to us to grasp it and carry on.
I don't think he ever "grasped" the true idea of his profession--he was a steward, first and foremost. Paul reminds us in Romans to "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself in sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you" (12:3)
So to all the teachers, instructors, and professors out there--never give up. Lead by example as one who hungers to learn daily. Practice faithful stewardship.
I find it's good to be back; I hope you do, too.
Peace be with you.