Children enjoy having their height measured and delight in seeing their growth. As students and teachers returned to the classroom this fall, some faced a new learning environment. Others found themselves in the same building, but with new opportunities for growing: new friends, new challenges, and new discoveries to be made. Learning can be exciting when those involved have a sense of purpose. What is education and why is it important? Education is more than giving and receiving knowledge. The Latin word from which the word education is derived means “To draw out that which lies within.” Why? In answering the question, let’s think of education as compensation for that which God didn’t give to us.” I’m not implying that God is lacking generosity in giving us gifts. God in His infinite wisdom created us with a gap between where we are and where we could be and should be. We’re designed to grow!
Growing is integral to the health of a person regardless of age and innate ability. Growth is many faceted and involves more than intellectual growth. It includes our physical, emotional and spiritual health, and our growth in the development of interpersonal skills. It’s an integral part of giving and receiving in community. As I pause to ponder these thoughts, I realize what an awesome challenge and privilege we have as parents, teachers, pastors, and others as members of a community.
Teaching is a little like farming and gardening. As teachers we plant seminal ideas, seeds of promise and hope in the fertile soil of hearts and minds. Who would think of planting without expecting the seeds to grow? Faith is an integral part of the process. Along with the knowledge we impart and the discipline we encourage, we also plant seeds of kindness and encouragement that nurture the spirit. The phrase “We reap what we sow” could be expanded to include, “We reap what we say.” Seeing each student as a person with potential can have a positive impact on his or her development. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Heb. 11:1 (NLT)
A wise leader knows that one approach doesn’t fit all. An informed teacher knows that there are different kinds of intelligence and draws from a student according to his/her potential and learning style. In an atmosphere of love and acceptance learners of all ages tend to thrive. Challenges are an integral part of growing, but these must be presented in ways that show that we value the person being challenged. In closing I’m offering a few words of caution and admonition. Teachers and other people in leadership positions also need encouragement and prayer. What a difference you and I could make if we would abstain from criticism of our leaders and, instead, offer words of encouragement and prayer for them. I’ve experienced the power of prayers offered on my behalf. Let’s be a community characterized by a spirit of love and joy in our homes, schools, churches, business enterprises, government and other venues of life together!