Hi, I'm JP Willis, Vice President for Education here at the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
In a few days, another school year begins. Our children will relinquish their summer break and vacation time to settle into our various classrooms for the next 180 days. Both student and teacher have enjoyed their time away from each other. It's a time to readjust to being together again. So, at the start of a brand-new year, what are the key ingredients that can result in having a great school year for those of us inside and outside the classroom?
At the start of each school year, teachers report to work a week before students arrive. This year, our teachers reported the first day of pre-week to our academy in Glendale for a special event. We, the superintendents, wanted to bring our educators together after being apart for so long. For the past two, going on three, years, we have worked isolated from each other. We have partnered with technology to conduct school and have not been able to fellowship with or encourage each other in person. It was time to convene as a group, to sing together, be inspired together, share a meal together, and recognize together professional milestones achieved by fellow teachers.
On that day, one passage of Scripture served as our anchor, as a charge challenging teachers and principals to set the tone for a successful school year. Romans 12:11, according to the Revised Standard Version, reads, “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.” The apostle Paul challenges us like he did with the believers in Rome to “never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.” Granted, there is much said by Paul before and after this small passage in Scripture. But for our teachers, on their first day back to work, they were challenged and encouraged to focus on three things: Zeal, aglow, and serve.
“Never flag in zeal.”
Zeal means to have great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective. Teachers, enter your classroom with zeal, enthusiasm, positive energy, and excitement. Never lose these qualities. Bring them with you each and every day. To do so will become infectious to your students and colleagues. If you have lost these qualities, rediscover them. It sets the tone for how you start your school year. Never flag in zeal.
“Be aglow with the spirit.”
Aglow refers to light, a brightness that emanates and shines from within. Light that eliminates darkness. Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.” It has also been said, “Ye are the light of the world.” Where does that light come from? How do we obtain such light that can then make us aglow with the Spirit? It comes when we spend time in the presence of God, including one-on-one prayer sessions with God, praying for your students, parents, colleagues, and yourself. Engage in daily Bible reading and study, especially about the life of Jesus Christ, the great teacher. It is said, “By beholding we become changed.” Spending such time results in others seeing the light of Jesus emanate from us.
“Serve the Lord.”
Do not lose sight of why we do what we do. We serve the Lord. Indeed, we instruct students, partner with parents, sharpen our craft as teachers. But all of this boils down to serving the Lord. Colossians 3:23-24 reads, “Whatever your task, work heartily as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” The same concept is repeated in 1 Corinthians 15:58 and Ephesians 6:6-7.
- Bring zeal to your daily work.
- Shine bright with the Spirit of God in you.
- Serve the Lord.
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