I remember I was very excited when I first decided to go into the teaching profession. I had a very clear calling from God to pursue a career in teaching, and I had one of the most important qualities that a teacher should have: loving children.
I thought, “I get to work with kids; this is going to be fun.” I was looking forward to decorating my classroom with the cutest borders, having meticulous lesson plans, and having a great discipline plan in place, all so my classroom would work well and flow smoothly.
I had great aspirations to do great things for God as a teacher — until I actually started teaching. I realized that I’m around sinners all day long, and I’m the biggest sinner of all.
So when my students are not listening or they’re being disrespectful; or there’s that one colleague who is difficult to work with and you want to run the other way; or your principal asks you for yet another thing on top of all the things you’re doing — it is tempting to feel angry, frustrated, hopeless, or like giving up.
I realize that I by myself cannot make an impact for Christ. I need to do as John 15:5 says and abide in him because he’s the vine, I’m just the branch, and apart from him I can’t do anything. Once I realized that, I stopped focusing on praying for myself as a teacher and how I can make an impact, but I began praying for my students, my colleagues, my school, and their families.
As I prayed and as I filled myself with God’s word, I realized that I had been seeking to produce the fruit of the Spirit on my own — something I cannot do. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control: none of those things can come from me. They can only come from abiding in Christ.
What I find funny is that I have all these great goals to do great things for Christ and be impactful in the lives of my students, motivating them, encouraging them to do great things and be somebody great. But I myself can’t do that for Christ. I need Him to do it in me and through me.
So my greatest encouragement to any teacher is to abide in Christ and produce the fruit of the Spirit. You can’t do it by yourself, but seek after him and produce that fruit in your classroom and beyond.
After teaching English to MKs in China during a summer missions trip, Julie decided to pursue a career in teaching and has taught in Title I schools for many years. When she's not in the classroom teaching her class of third graders, she serves at Living Hope Community Church as the Associate Director of KKJ (Early Childhood Ministries) and as the VBS Director. Her favorite people are her husband, Tommy, and their two children, Maia and JJ.