Called to Public Schools
School Leader Bible Study
Called to Public Schools
Week of August 11, 2019 by Tom Deighan
In the next few weeks, most schools in our great nation will be back in session. Some educators will return to their jobs, but many will return to something more, for the public schools of America are filled with Christians who believe they are called by God. Just as pastors and ministers are called to serve their congregations, multitudes of men and women believe they have answered a call to serve in the public school systems of America.
It would not be accurate to call us Christian Educators, for we are not educating only Christians; neither are we working in Christian schools. Instead, we serve in secular institutions that often seem to be antithetical to our faith. We are simply Christians who happen to be educators. And as Christians who serve in public schools, we place ourselves in awkward positions.
On the one hand, we work in secularized government schools, some of which occasionally garner national headlines related to very hardline stances against Christian students or staff. Obviously, many Christians in public schools do not feel entirely welcomed in an aggressively secular environment. Less obvious, however is how alienated many Christians serving in public schools can feel in the Christian community. Many Christians and churches express views of public schools as terrible places designed to eradicate God from the public square.
Consequently, Christians who happen to be educators can easily feel like they are in limbo – isolated not only from their colleagues but also from their fellow Christians. Many never feel wholly welcomed at work and many never feel truly welcomed among the faithful. Christians who feel called to work in public schools often feel suspect from both perspectives. We have accepted the secular restraints upon us – just as workers do in thousands of industries. We also struggle with the spiritual condition of our nation, which is reflected nowhere better than in the local public school. Trust us, we get it, but that’s why we work in public schools.
Politics aside, children need love even more in such a troubling time. Modern children face social pressures, isolation, and stress in ways that most of us adults cannot comprehend. Recent studies indicate that 1/5 of all millennials have no friends at all and nearly 90% of young adults do not believe they have any purpose in life. Depression and hopelessness run rampant among our digitized, stigmatized, and social-media-driven youth. These children need love, and who better to love such children and model good behavior than a group of people with a world view based on grace, forgiveness, hope and love? None of those things are in abundant supply in pop culture. Thank God for you who have answered the call to fill that void.
Christians universally share the conviction that each of us has been created with a purpose and a calling. Children need a sense of meaning, and although we may be limited in what words we can say at school – no one or nothing restrains their loving hearts, caring hands, or embracing arms. Who can separate them from such personal expressions of the love of God? Just as attributed to St. Francis: Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary use words.
I am no longer in the classroom. I am simply an administrator, so I do not count myself among the life-changers serving children daily, but with God’s help, perhaps I can encourage and support you all. School Leader Bible Study started 8 years ago with the purpose of encouraging school leaders through scripture. I took a break for this summer, and I feel a renewed desire to focus more on the needs of Christians serving in our public schools. Support exists for every conceivable group of educators based on gender, subject, and race, but educators who are also Christians need encouragement, too. Just think of it as targeted, differentiated support. And while I sincerely hope those of you who are not educators or even Christians continue to receive it – my focus will be on the men and women who pour love into the empty hearts of so many children.
May God bless each of you who have accepted the calling to serve Him and His children in a public school. You share a calling with the likes of Daniel, Nehemiah, and Joseph – all who served God mightily from within government institutions antagonistic to their faith. Many in the Christian community may not understand your calling, but never doubt that you are called and chosen for one of the most significant works in our modern age: serving in a public school. It is the modern mission field, and you have a critical role: “He Himself gave some to be . . . teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11)
And may God enlighten Churches across the nation in supporting and affirming their important work, eradicating this unnecessary wall of separation. May they use Christians in public schools as resources for ministry. May they pray for them regularly and support them. With local prayer and support, they can be “watchmen on the walls” for communities in transformative ways. Instead of working with a sword in one hand, however; they work in chalk and crayons!
If you are a Christian called to serve in a public school, rejoice! God has placed you in a pivotal role. You are Christ’s loving arms to the children of a lost and dying world, and you can equip your local Christians with priceless insight into the public education system. You can transform a wall of separation into a wall of protection around your communities, for if God’s grace can fill the public school, it can flood the entire community. Never doubt that God has called you to your current position. (I Cor. 7:20) Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:13-14 certainly apply: “You are the salt of the earth . . . you are the light of the world.” And nowhere needs light more than our public schools, so thank you for answering His calling for such a time as this.
Please share with someone needing encouragement. Visit www.tomdeighan.com to sign up for the devotional. Copyright Tom Deighan