I have some vivid memories of the horror that was first grade. I was a bright kid, but I had a teacher whom I can’t help but remember as a not-so-green version of the witch from the Wizard of Oz. I was terrified. I didn’t know it but my parents were scared too — not of my teacher, but of what damage she would do to my joy in learning.
Enter Miss Matika. My second grade teacher turned my school life around 180 degrees. What I remember from that year is being loved. I knew Miss Matika thought I was just terrific, and that made school a good place to be. I stopped by her room every so often for years to come.
My second grade teacher made all the difference in my life.
Just writing about Miss Matika makes me thankful to God. I get all warm inside. Almost weepy.
That is what English Puritan John Beadle had in mind in 1656 when he wrote
Remember what Schoolmasters we have had.
This was in a chapter where he listed topics for Christians to write about in their journals. The book is The Journal or Diary of a Thankful Christian, the first book on the topic of journaling as a spiritual discipline. (You can read more about it in my book, Kneeling with Giants: Learning to Pray with History’s Best Teachers.)
Teachers are actually a subtopic of an exercise that reads
All the instruments, all the men and means that God hath in providence at any time used for our good, must not be forgotten
God uses our teachers in so many ways.
- Sometimes they give us confidence just by caring.
- Sometimes they help us grow in life skills like cooperation, finding friends, getting along.
- Sometimes they help us discover our gifts and dreams and vocations.
- Oh yeah: they also teach us little things like reading and writing. Handy stuff.
This is all quite different than directly telling us the gospel — though sometimes teachers do that too. But God really uses all these things in the process of guiding us and growing us. Teachers do these things and we are able to flourish as the people God created us to be.
Who was one of your great teachers? What made him or her so amazing? I hope you’ll share in the comments.
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