Core scripture: “Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)
Message: I am about to enter my 20th year of teaching. Man … 20 years. That is a LONG time! How long? Some of my former students are now my colleagues. They have families of their own. I am officially now older than my students’ parents. Alright, I will stop there. No sense in making my bones feel creaky THAT much more.
Do you remember your first year? Your first lesson even? Back when you thought you could change the world? I do.
Still in school at MNU, I had been observing an English class at Oregon Trail Middle School, and I was about to teach a lesson about the plains Indians. Oh man, was I stoked! I mean, I found the perfect movie clip from Dances With Wolves, the perfect writing assignment. Everything was spot on. And the fire inside my belly was roaring, aching to make a difference.
Do you remember that phenomenon? That feeling that you could actually change a life for the better? Make a difference in the life of a child? I love that feeling! It is why we teach! Sadly, I must admit, probably much like any veteran teacher, that the fire that once burned in me has dimmed a bit. No, it is not completely extinguished, but it sure isn’t burning as much as before.
Teacher burnout is at an all-time high. We are leaving the profession like a stampede of buffalo. Satan has been spraying his fire extinguisher relentlessly, and our flames are all but out. Ladies and gentlemen, Christian teachers everywhere—it is time to fight back! It is time to rediscover why we do what we do. It is time to embrace the new theme for the 2022-2023 school year …
REKINDLE THE FLAME.
Jimmy Casas, a presenter at Olathe Summer Conference 2022, challenged us to remember why we teach. I thought back to that young man in his mid-20’s. Man, I was so different! Excitement oozed from my every essence. I wept tears of passion at my job interview. And that lady took note of the fire she saw inside me. Within weeks I had a second interview with Olathe and was hired.
Where is that guy? I know he can be rediscovered. I must allow the Holy Spirit to take over. Quiet myself. Listen. I can hear it speaking to me through the powerful words of Christ …
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:14-16).
How can we be that light? How can we rekindle the flame, not only sparking life into ourselves, but also allowing the overflow to spill into our students and colleagues? Here are a few ideas.
- Pray persistently. Seek Him all day long. Before your students arrive. As they begin to flood your classroom. On your breaks. God will listen! Communication with the Almighty will soothe your anxious soul. He will nudge you the way you need to go.
- Keep in the Word. It doesn’t matter how many times I read the Bible; I can always find a new perspective. God will likewise provide me the perfect scripture to combat the temptations I face. Meditate on His truth. Memorize your favorite verses.
- Try something new. Refresh yourself with a new lesson you find intriguing. Don’t feel like you have to completely reinvent the wheel, but be open to new ideas. Mixing things up will hopefully spark that fire! Then allow the Lord to fan the flames.
- Find a way to serve. My most purposeful moments come when I serve. Serve Him using the gifts you have. Do you have a passion for sports? Coach. Love to write? Start a writing club. God loves seeing His children displaying servant leadership.
- Be unashamed. Be open and unashamed about your faith. When I get to know my students the first weeks of school, I always let them know I am a Christian. Just like clockwork, the Christian students will quietly connect with me. I love encouraging them in their walks.
I opened my rosters for the first time this morning. Looking at my new students’ faces, I smiled. Every face has a story. Every face is looking for inspiration. Be that inspiration when they arrive! Rekindle the flame that once burned inside you. Allow that passion for teaching to creep back in, and let it spread like a wildfire.
Challenge: Get that fire started back up. Rekindle your flame!
Song application: “Start a Fire” by Unspoken.
This world can be cold and bitter
Feels like we’re in the dead of winter
Waiting on something better
But am I really gonna hide forever?
Over and over again
I hear Your voice in my head
Let Your light shine, let Your light shine for all to see
Start a fire in my soul
Fan the flame and make it grow
So there’s no doubt or denying
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need
Start a fire in me
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Pray for passion for educators as we begin the school year.
- Praise God for the precious opportunity we have to influence young minds.
- Pray that your flames will sweep like a wildfire through schools everywhere.
Just for fun: At middle school church camp two weeks ago, the first night was the Staff Find. Leaders like me dressed all in black and went to hide on the Youthfront campus. The kids ran out later to find us. I crawled into the ball box next to the basketball court and waited. I soon heard voices—from the high school lifeguards and kitchen staff. They opened the box and totally freaked out when they saw me. The kid slammed the box shut and excitedly exclaimed, “Dude! There’s an old bald guy in there!” Not my finest moment.
Prayer: Lord, fuel us with passion and rekindle our flames to burn bright for You in 2022! Amen.