Teaching the Least of These
School Leader Bible Study
Teaching the Least of These
Week of March 1, 2020 by Tom Deighan
Anyone who has dedicated their life, career, and family to serving in a public school in the United States has wrestled with this question: Did I make the right choice?
Many struggle answering this, especially in recent years, when political pundits and many churches paint all public educators with one broad, negative stroke. Many of you believe you have answered a call from God to serve in public schools, yet even Christians sharing your pew do not always understand or support your calling. Nevertheless, you purposefully chose this profession. Well, if you work in a public school in the United States, you may not realize that Jesus described you.
We find the scripture in Matthew 25:35-36, when Jesus described the behavior of the sheep and the goats. To the sheep, He said: “’I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’” You have read the scripture many times, but have you really thought about how it relates to your career? Do you serve the hungry or the thirsty? Do you ever make strangers feel at home? Have you ever encountered someone who needed clothes or medical care? Do your clients’ challenges sometimes even include incarceration?
We always have to be careful in misapplying scripture or twisting it to fit our situation, for clearly, Jesus never talked about public school educators, but Jesus did describe actions and behavior that characterize the men and women called to serve Him. As a Christian called to serve in public schools, you have dedicated your life to serving the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and even the imprisoned. Sometimes, these people have been children and sometimes parents, and they can often be described as “the least of these my brethren.” (v. 40)
We are all familiar with the ministry positions listed in Ephesians 4:11: “apostles . . . prophets . . . evangelists . . . pastors and teachers.” We often forget, however, that those positions that we normally consider as “ministry” exist “for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (v. 12) In other words, those callings minister primarily to Christians. A whole lot of “ministries” fall outside of the roles we traditionally consider callings to serve God – like serving “the least of these” as a public school educator. You have not just chosen a career; you have answered a calling to a mission field full of people who daily need food, clothing, medical care, and more.
I wholeheartedly believe that God has called many to minister in public schools. You do not do it for the pay or the prestige or the perks; you do it because you were called to serve “the least of these.” Like many of you, I can remember the day when I heard that call. I had not entered college yet or even had a path to college. Many of you have similar or even more amazing stories. The common thread is the calling to serve “the least of these.”
Dear educator, I believe God has called thousands of Christians like you to serve in public schools, and if you are reading this devotional, you likely share this conviction. May God bear witness to us, reaffirming His vision for us in this present darkness. And over the next few weeks, may He somehow encourage us that He has called us to serve “the least of these.” For when we serve them, we are actually serving Christ Himself, for as He said, “’inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Thank you for serving Christ as an educator in our nation’s greatest mission field, and may the Holy Spirit bear witness with yours that you have made the right choice to answer the calling to minister in public schools.
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