Editor's note: An anonymous public school teacher has written this article. This teacher's job could be jeopardized if his/her name was published on this topic due to the specific community the school is in.
It’s no secret that American public schools can be unfriendly environments toward the gospel. Teachers are under tremendous pressures and expectations from their principals, parents, and society. But for the Christian teacher, all of these things are second to displaying the gospel as she steps foot into that public school every single day.
As a teacher since the early 2000’s, my career has been in a variety of communities. Through my experiences, God has shown me many ways that I can display the gospel, no matter the setting.
Be humble. I know many teachers who have been in situations where they were treated unfairly. Some said they were being targeted because of their faith. Even so, we can’t see what is in another person’s heart. Whoever this may come from—a co-worker, student, or parent—the best way we can demonstrate Christ’s grace is by loving them.
David asks the Lord in Psalm 7 to save him from his enemies, but he also asks God to let his enemies overtake him if he did any wrong. Like David, we should ask God to reveal our sin so we may apologize and seek forgiveness when appropriate. Be gracious with those that might seek harm, pray for them, and ask God to use you in those situations to model the gospel.
Be in awe. If you’re like me, I would assume you enjoy the subject you teach. Whatever the content, God’s glory is displayed in immense ways through each discipline—whether it’s being in awe of God through his creation, the order in which he has created all things, the diversity and complexity of languages, how he has displayed His glory through history, or the beauty in the diversity of all peoples. As teachers, we have the amazing privilege of being in awe of his magnificence every day.
We have the ability to demonstrate the gospel when we treat every one of our students with dignity and respect.
Don’t be alone. We should find other believers in our schools that we can pray with and encourage. Our biggest ministry might be to those fellow believing co-workers. They may need to be pointed to the cross and reminded of God’s faithfulness. Or, they may need to be reminded of their true purpose as a teacher: to display the glory of God through serving the students and families in your community.
Build relationships. Relationships are one of the best things about being a teacher. The impact we as teachers can have with our students can literally change their lives. You never know how loving and caring for your students (even the least of these or those that resist you) could impact them. We have the ability to demonstrate the gospel when we treat every one of our students with dignity and respect.
Maybe you’re reading this and you’re not a teacher or you have little to no interaction with your local public school. Regardless, pray for teachers. As you drive by a school, pray for the believers there. No matter the type of community you live in, there are Christ-followers in the public school. We need your prayers and encouragement every day, especially in this confusing culture. We can’t do any of these things on our own. It’s only by God’s grace and power that we can know and live for him.
The reality is that the spiritual condition of our public schools will continue to grow in opposition to the gospel. But we don’t have to shrink back in fear. By God’s grace, we can display the gospel and bear witness to Christ in an incredibly tough environment. May God use our influence for his glory.