It’s hard to believe, but in two weeks, I’ll officially be done as a school teacher. It’s a strange feeling, to be sure. When I started this job two years ago, I had no intention of doing anything else. The Lord, however, had different plans. As I reflect back on the last two years, I’ve come to a few realizations:
1. Teaching is absolutely one of the most underpaid and under-appreciated professions in the entire world. Put them up there with the police, firemen, and military. Unless you’ve done it, you have no idea. And I taught in a private CHRISTIAN school. Ladies and gentlemen, I have MAD respect for each and every teacher out there! You work incredibly long hours for little pay, and very little recognition. Here’s to you! And folks, especially those of you with kids in public schools, when teacher appreciation week rolls around, don’t forget to appreciate! I was so blessed at our school in the two years I was there, but I’ve heard the horror stories! Show the love! After all, those teachers spend more hours with your kids in a year than you do!
2. Teaching is unbelievably hard. I was in sales for 12 years, and made cold calls on a lot of big, intimidating accounts. However, in all that time, nothing was as intimidating as standing in front of the same 22 kids, day after day, and trying to get them to buy into what you were trying to get them to learn. THAT’s tough! (And on that subject, you’ve never faced a tough audience until you’ve lead worship for a group of teenagers!) There is a drudgery that sets in with teaching that I never felt in sales, and it hits both the teachers and the kids around February. It’s the realization that you’ve done the same thing every day for 6 months, and you still have 4 more to go!
3. Teaching is unbelievably rewarding. In my two short years teaching, I’ve made relationships that mean so much to me, both in my co-teachers, and in my students. I’ve received cards/emails/letters from students and parents that blow me away, because I’m amazed at how the Lord could use a fool like me to touch the life of anyone. And then you have moments like one I had last week, when a student that we’d had a very rough year with looks and me, with unabashed joy in her eyes, and tells me she gave her life to Christ the day before! When she thanked me for never giving up on her….well, you can gather the rest. Those are memories I’ll cherish forever.
4. Teaching is most definitely a calling. I don’t care if you’re in public schools or private, Christian or not, you better make very sure you’re doing it because it’s what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s not a job. It’s a ministry. I had the incredible opportunity to pour into 141 kids between last year and this year, each and every day, and share the love of Christ with them. I failed probably more than I succeeded, but I tried. It wasn’t just a job. After all, if you’re getting into teaching for the money, you haven’t read your contract closely enough! But don’t take it lightly. Please don’t. The costs are too high. If you’re in it, and you’re burned out, get out. As my pastor says, in the Bible you never hear the words “burned out” in regards to ministry. “Poured out”, yes, but not “burned out.” Don’t stay in it unless you’re sure it’s what you’re supposed to be doing, unless you view it as a calling and not a career. Don’t do that to yourself, and definitely don’t do it to the kids. They deserve better.
So having said all that, I’m very grateful for my two years teaching. For the lessons I’ve learned, for the friendships I’ve made, for the way I’ve grown myself. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt the Lord called me there for a reason, and I’m equally certain that He is not shutting that door as He opens another. But I look back with nothing but gratitude for my time in it. I’m blessed, to be sure.