Our program today is dedicated to be an expression of thanks for Christian school teachers.
If you are a family which has the privilege of sending your children to a Christian school, then you will be joining with me in expressing thanks for the Christian teachers who have dedicated their lives to the instruction of God’s covenant children.
If you do not have a Christian school in your area and your children do not attend such a school, nevertheless join with us as we express thanks to God for a very valuable blessing that He has given to us in the building of His kingdom. And we pray that as you listen in and as you hear why we are thankful for these Christian teachers, that God may open your eyes to see why a Christian school is of such great benefit and blessing and may work in you that you may seek out such a school or, perhaps, even establish a Christian school of your own.
I can imagine that Christian teachers who are listening to me at this time perhaps blush. Nevertheless, we feel compelled by God to express our appreciation for you and for the work that you do in our behalf.
The word of Scripture that I have in mind is found in Matthew 25:21. Here we read: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” I say, again, perhaps you would blush now, especially when you hear those words applied to you. Nevertheless, we believe, on the basis of Scripture, that those words apply to every faithful servant of Christ – whether that servant is in the house, whether that servant is in the church, whether that servant is in the lowliest place that is to be found in the kingdom – it applies to every faithful servant. Therefore, it also applies to Christian school teachers and to your work with our covenant children. We express our gratitude to God for you with those words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Appreciation. What is appreciation? In Webster’s dictionary we are given this definition: Appreciation is a sensitive awareness or recognition of the value and significance of a thing. That is thought-provoking. In other words, there cannot be appreciation unless you have an understanding, a sensitive understanding, of the importance of a thing. Appreciation can go only as deep as understanding of the importance or the value of a thing. If you do not know the importance or the value of something, you cannot appreciate it. So appreciation for the work in the kingdom and, specifically now, for work in the Christian school and for those who perform that work is dependent upon a sensitive understanding of the value of such work.
We could look at that work from different points of view. We could look at it, first of all, and be appreciative of this, that those who engage in Christian education often do so at great personal sacrifice. Often that work will require that one must leave his family and go to a different part of the country and make his home in another area. It will often include many nights away from your family. And there are many hours for a dedicated Christian teacher who takes his work to heart and who carries his students upon his heart. More hours than anybody knows go into teaching.
There are also sacrifices financially. Teaching in a Christian school does not bring the greatest financial reward. It is a labor of love and of love and of love. It requires a commitment, a godly devotion, and patience – patience which is to be found only at the right hand of God, stability of faith, persistence. And if you are to lead the little ones of God and the young people of the church, it requires that you be filled with wisdom, that you be one who is constantly before the throne of God begging Him for wisdom and for grace.
From those points of view, we can appreciate and understand the value of your work. But our appreciation goes deeper than just looking at the sacrifice that we see that you are making. The heart of our appreciation goes to the work itself, the blessed and glorious work of Christian education. Through the Scriptures, we see the work that is being performed – the work that God is performing. We have formed Christian schools because, as parents, we believe it is our duty, given to us of God, to teach our children. To teach them not only in what they know in their mind, but to gird them for every aspect of their life, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. That work we do collectively by hiring you, as a Christian teacher, to teach them in our stead, to impart to them knowledge in the light of the faith that we believe. And that faith is the faith of the glorious doctrines of God’s Word – the Reformed, biblical faith, the faith which says that all glory is God’s, and that a thing can only be known when it is seen in the light of God’s Word. It is a faith which says that the height of all knowledge is to place it before the cross of Christ, the height of all knowledge is to think the thoughts of God after Him.
This is your work. This is the work, rather, that God performs through you. It is a work of molding. It is a work of shaping our children and young people.
So we form Christian schools. And we entrust our children to your instruction, instruction which is after ours. We have our children in the Christian school because we desire them to be taught the truth – that is, the Word of God as it applies to every subject. And we call upon you to love our children as we do. When we see God using you to mold our children, when we see our children growing up in the knowledge of God’s Word as it applies to every subject, being taught what God would require of them, and being shown the majesty of God in all things, then our hearts are filled with appreciation. If, as parents, we do not have a sensitive understanding of the great blessing of Christian education, then we will not either have appreciation for Christian school teachers. But if we appreciate the great work, then we will appreciate those who, by the grace of God, have dedicated themselves to do the work.
Christian school teachers, you have a great impact on our children. We love our children. We have received them from the hand of God. We desire, with Manoah and his wife, to order our children in the way of the Lord and to bring them up to know Him and to put their trust in Him. Now we know, as parents, that we do not very often express our appreciation enough. And, sometimes, we show ourselves to be rather insensitive to the difficult work that you are called to do. We want you to know, today, that we are thankful, that we are appreciative for this work.
How shall we show our appreciation? Our appreciation cannot be just in one message on the Reformed Witness Hour today. It cannot be just in one handshake. It cannot be just in one expression of thanks. If that is all that it is – a one-time thing – then it would be better had we never expressed our appreciation. It must not be superficial. It must not be just a one-time thing.
We express our appreciation, first of all, by never taking this blessing for granted. When we do not take something for granted, we will pray for it. So we will express our appreciation through prayer. Still more. We will express our appreciation not just by our words, but by our actions and by our whole demeanor and support of the Christian school. We will not assume the demeanor toward the Christian school and toward Christian school teachers of saying, “Well, that’s their task.” Their task? Parents, that is not their task. That is our task. Those are our children! We are responsible. So we will show our appreciation by praying for our Christian school teachers, by getting to know them, by inviting them over to the house, by talking to them, by encouraging them, by asking for their insights into our children.
We will always support our Christian school teachers before our children. We will not tear them down. Parents, if you have an issue with your child’s teacher, bring that issue to the teacher, but make sure your child never knows about it. If you expect your child to respect those who are in authority over them and, now specifically, their Christian school teacher, that respect will be learned in how they hear you talk about them. Do not expect your child to respect the policeman if you talk about him in a derogatory way. Do not expect your child to respect the Christian school teacher, or the things of God, if you talk about them in a flippant way. Again, if you have issues with them, go to them, talk to them. Desire to establish communication with them, seek the good of the child and the glory of God. This is an attitude of support.
Specifically, then, we show our appreciation, first of all, by cooperation. We are working towards a common goal. The common goal is to provide a good, Reformed, biblical, godly school. We will then cooperate. We will show our children that we are all pulling in one direction. That involves, as I said, good communication and understanding. It involves, as I said, how we deal with difficulties. And it involves a respect for the teacher. But it also involves cooperation. In most Christian schools there is the practice of holding what are called Parent/Teacher Conferences. This is a wonderful thing. It is not just for times when there are problems academically or socially with the child. Parent/Teacher Conferences ought to be attended enthusiastically. As a parent, you ought to make those conferences a priority. Maybe they ought to be held more often. What a difference it makes when the child knows that Dad rescheduled all of his meetings because he wanted to talk to his teacher about how he is doing. “Mom and Dad were there. And they talked about me and my progress in the school, listening carefully to what the teacher says.” Parent/teacher conferences are very important.
There are so many ways that we can show our appreciation: prayer, cooperation, talking, encouraging, having a demeanor of support.
Today, to Christian school teachers, we express our thank-you. That is all together proper and legitimate. We want to do that. God places that upon our hearts. It is a very emotional thing for us, and that in the right sense, because we love our children. Therefore, we love you in your devotion to teaching them the truth – all things in the light of God’s truth.
I am sure that there are many difficult times when you, as a Christian school teacher, want to quit and say, “Well, if the parents don’t care, why should I care?” To be a Christian school teacher takes a lot of commitment, and that is to be found only before God. Why are you doing it? If you are doing it for the accolades of men, will you stop? Then you ought to quit. You must do it for God’s sake. Yes, for God’s sake. It is a worthy labor. It is a wonderful way to spend the life that God has given to you. It is a high and honorable place in the kingdom of God. But you must do it for one reason – out of service to God. For no other reason.
Why did you become a teacher? It must be for the right reasons. Certainly, perhaps, you did not become a teacher for money. If you did, I say again, you ought to quit. You can barely make a living, perhaps. No, you did it because you felt that you would be used as an instrument in the growth and development of covenant children. Now, keep your eye, by God’s grace, on that commitment, and God will give you grace to go on even when you see your weakness and when you are confronted by difficulties. It is a useful work in the kingdom. Perhaps it is not a work of high profile. It is not going to bring much honor, power, or prestige. It is not a work in the limelight. But there is a secret about work in the kingdom of God. Here is the secret: The most vital work in God’s kingdom is often in the place where it is the hardest, where it is unnoticed, where it is daily, and where the work is simply ground out day after day, and where the work depends upon a consistent example.
If you think I am talking about the school, I am not, first of all. I am talking about the home. There is where the great work of God’s church is performed, the consistent example of believing parents. But that is hard. That is very hard. But the Christian school follows along very close, and also the Christian school teacher. The work may be unnoticed, it becomes very hard, it is day after day, it is the routine. Oh, but it is far more than just a routine. It is the work of the Lord. Remember the Lord’s words: “If any man serve Me, let him follow Me. Where I am there will My servant be. If any man serve Me, him will My Father honor.” Where was Jesus? Was He in the upper seats of the synagogues? Was He constantly under the accolades of men upon the street corner? No, Jesus was with the lowly and despised. And now you read the New Testament gospel narratives and you will find that Jesus was often with the children. They felt very comfortable with Him. And often He would call them to His side and they would come to Him. That is striking, is it not? You, as a teacher, know that, do you not? A child does not come to a stranger. Seldom will a child come to an adult. But children would come to the side of Jesus. Because, you see, He had come for them. He was among them. He was their Shepherd.
Will you serve Him? Then you will be found where your Master is to found. There will you be also. As the Father has honored the Son, so will He honor all labors done in humble dependence upon Him for the good of the children of His covenant.
A former teacher had this prayer written out that I asked him for. I would like to close the program today with that prayer.
Let us pray.
My Lord, I do not ask to stand as lord or king of high degree. I only ask that, hand-in-hand, a child and I may come to Thee. To teach, a tender voice to pray, two childish eyes Thy will to see, two feet to guide in Thy own way – this, fervently, I ask of Thee. Amen.