The Rewards Of A Teacher
By Mark Redka
Rewards are nice, aren’t they? It feels great when people enjoy a meal you’ve cooked or someone tells you that we look nice. It’s rewarding when people notice that you’ve lost weight after you’ve been diligent on a diet (not that I know from personal experience). I love to look out the window at the lawn I have just mowed or to admire a newly waxed vehicle. That’s instant gratification. Yet not all rewards are so instant or obvious.
Our motive as teachers shouldn’t be rewards. It should be our love for our Savior, our students, and the subject that we are teaching. Yet we do get rewards along the way, if we apply ourselves to the endeavor.
1- More knowledge from study. One needs to study to be a good teacher and, in that discipline, comes an increase in knowledge. I have learned more as a teacher than I ever did as a student. You can’t give something away that you don’t have, so increasing our knowledge helps us “feed” our students, but we get fed first. Hopefully you’re not doling out scraps to hungry students. Feed them well and they will grow, not only in what they know, but in their desire to know more. I thank God for the teachers who did that for me.
2- Personal growth. As you prepare to feed others, you will grow by leaps and bounds as God’s Word impacts and challenges your life. The Bible promises to have an impact on our lives. (2 Tim. 3:16,17) Its purpose is to lead us on to maturity (the meaning of the word “perfect”) and we are commanded to grow. (1 Pet. 2:2, 2 Pet. 3:18) God doesn’t want us to remain spiritual babies.
3- A Closer walk with God. A boy once asked, “How big is God? His dad pointed out an airplane up in the air. It looked very small. Then he took his son to the airport where they could see the planes close up. Of course, the planes then looked huge. The point is that the closer you get to God, the bigger God is to you. Studying and teaching will bring you closer to Him. That will greatly affect your personal life, which will spill over into your teaching. Hopefully your students will be infected by that as well.
4 – Joy of discovery. Many believers live on a very low plain. They are stuck in a mediocre Christian life. They miss out on discovering the amazing things that our God has done, not only in the lives of Biblical characters, but also in the lives of missionaries and ministers who have faithfully served Him. Often my wife has shared a “wow” moment or incredible quote as she has studied for a lesson. I am challenged and encouraged as I read how God provided for or protected one of His children. There is absolutely no end to what you can discover. You find gold nuggets when you dig deep enough.
5 – Light bulb moments when kids get it. Its rewarding to see kids remembering the answers to review questions – they actually learned something. What is even more exciting is to see kids spontaneously bowing their heads to pray as you present the invitation. I tell kids what to pray, but generally tell them to come see me after class if they want to receive Jesus. One time I turned around while packing up my computer only to discover nine children who wanted to get saved. Another time a boy refused to leave his seat until he received counsel for salvation.
6 – Hugs. pictures, notes from students. It’s nice to receive the immediate reward of a hug or a kid’s comment about how fun class was or that they can’t wait until the next time. Some will grace you with a fabulous work of art made just for you or a note of thanks for being their teacher. I consider these of great value. I have made a special “Smile File” that I resort to in times of discouragement or just for a reminder of the importance of sharing God’s Word.
7 – God’s blessing verse: Isaiah 52:7 God says that those who publish and preach the good news of salvation and peace have beautiful feet. A church once sent me a note with that verse on it, so I snapped a picture of my feet and sent it to them. What a reward that God views us that way.
1 – Seeing students living for Christ and serving Him. You don’t always get to see this but sometimes you do. This, of course, takes time. You have to wait to see them grow up. You aren’t the only person responsible for these results, but it’s nice to have made a contribution.
2 – Heaven – ripple effect. This is an exciting thing to look forward to. We don’t receive rewards upon entering heaven because the affects of our lives continue on in the lives of others. How sad it will be for those who made no impact, no difference in their world. As teachers we have a great opportunity to reach out to a world that we will not live to see. This is also the primary opportunity of parents.
3 – Answering a call from God. What a joyful moment it is when you find someone who has yielded their lives for full-time service because of the influence of your teaching. My wife and I were sitting at a wedding reception when the sister of the groom approached our table. She shared that she was in college preparing to be a missionary nurse and that it was a story Roberta had shared in missions at camp that had influenced her decision.
4 – Jewels in our crown. One story that we’ve taught is about Doctor Carl Becker. He could have had fame and fortune in America, but he served in Africa because of a promise he had made to God. Some consider him to have made the greatest impact of any medical missionary to that continent. One of his African trainees said, “Many missionaries had preached Jesus Christ to me, and many missionaries had taught Jesus Christ to me, but in the munganga I have seen Jesus Christ.” Only heaven will reveal the incredible number of people who are there because of the witness and dedication of this one man. Will you dedicate your teaching to Christ so that you will make the greatest impact for Him? There is joy in serving Jesus. The rewards are in and out of this world!
PS. Doctor Becker also delivered babies who grew up to be missionaries. One of them was Gordon Hurlburt – a now retired CBM missionary.
Written by Dr. Mark Redka, serving as Released Time teacher and camp cook at Camp Ta-Pa-Win-Go. [https://www.cbmcamp.com] To learn more about Camp Ta-Pa-Win-Go’s Released Time Program or Summer Camp Program visit their website.