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The Fruits of the Spirit in the Life of a Christian Schoolteacher

A Christian schoolteacher is called by the Lord to this very special vocation of teaching the covenant children. This individual must have a love for the children of the church and want to help them grow not only academically, but spiritually and mentally as well. This is not an occupation that is a last resort or something to settle for quickly. The work of a teacher in the Christian school is a labor that is “extremely demanding mentally, emotionally, and physically” (Dykstra 2017). The teacher will endure many stressors, including, but not limited to, long hours preparing lessons, grading, trying to find the best way to help a struggling student, and balancing her calling and personal life. Although there are many difficulties that may occur, the blessings from this occupation abound. The fruits of the Spirit must be evident in the life of a teacher. The fruits of the Spirit are crucial when influencing those around them, especially their students, who are the future generation of our churches.

First, it is important to know what these fruits of the Spirit are.They include love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and temperance. They are fruits that are produced when we walk in a life filled with Christ, being joined to him, and in him live through faith. The Spirit works these wonderful fruits in those who are regenerated and those who believe in him (Smit 2012). This isn’t something we do of ourselves or something that we can just forget about. We need him to continue to work in our hearts these fruits, as everything comes from the Spirit and nothing from ourselves. These fruits will also be evidence of the ridding of the old man and the quickening of the new man in us. Lord’s Day 33, question and answer 90, says that we will have a joy and love to live according to the will of God in the whole of our lives. We must live this godly life striving after him, not because our works will merit us anything, but out of gratitude to him. He dwells in us and works these amazing blessings in us.

These fruits are to be considered together, as a singular fruit. We must also not mix up the order of these, as the order is particular in development (Hoeksema 1960). Basically, nothing is present without love. Without it, nothing else can survive. This is the fundamental fruit. This love is what ties together the hearts of the saints and connects the saints to each other with body, soul, mind, and strength (Lubbers 1955). This love makes us want to see others be well and do well. We desire to serve one another without any reward or anything in return. But most importantly, we love others because God has commanded us to, and we love them because Christ has loved us. We see this throughout 1 John 4. What really stands out are verses 10–11: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” God sent his only begotten Son to die for us; there is no greater love than that love he has shown to us. We must follow that type of self-sacrificial love. That type of self-sacrificial love is seen in John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” In this text we see how Jesus laid down his life for his friends, and we must follow that same example in all of our lives. We as teachers or future teachers must have this self-sacrificial love. We must constantly be giving ourselves to our students and helping them grow in all aspects of life. There is no way we can love perfectly, especially of ourselves, but God calls us to love with the whole of our hearts.

Stated earlier were some difficulties a teacher might face. A teacher lacking the fruits of the Spirit cannot and will not be able to help her students grow in any way positively. These fruits are a matter of the heart. If you truly desire to grow in your spiritual life and in your relationship with God, you will reap these fruits and see benefits from them. We see this in Colossians 1:10: “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Godly teachers will strive to build their knowledge of God. We will then have willing hearts to help the students around us and want to see them succeed in their work. Having love, we will help these children grow in their faith as well.

Not only will teachers use these fruits in their work lives but also in their everyday personal walks. They will love those around them. Others will see their positive attitudes and holy hearts and be pleased with those individuals who are the ones educating their children. Article 24 of the Belgic Confession states that the faith we have through Christ makes men live pious and holy lives. Everything they do is for the glory of God, not for self. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Teachers must have this exact attitude. They must have a love for those around them and be meek. They don’t think of themselves as best or want their own praise but want what is best for those around them. Pride is absent in this whole atmosphere. We sacrifice ourselves for our students out of love; this is that serious of a calling. Nothing we do is for the benefit of ourselves, but it is to help those around us and to see them grow in Christ as well. It will give us as teachers joy to live in this way of love and gentleness, because God commands this of us.

Those who are fully equipped and prepared for this calling will more fully complete this task of teaching the covenant children. This is seen in the Canons of Dordrecht 3–4.17 when it says, “The more readily we perform our duty, the more eminent usually is this blessing of God working in us, and the more directly is His work advanced.” When someone is unprepared for his work, he is most likely not to do well. The vocation of teaching is something very serious to consider. Yes, it is a lot of work. Yes, you will continuously be busy. But seeing the results of the covenant children growing not only in earthly knowledge but also  in personal and spiritual ways is something that can never be taken away from you. The relationships you grow in and the amount of love you see with the students, parents, and families is priceless. You really see God working in all those around you.

The Christian schoolteacher must be an example to those students and children whom he or she is teaching. These children are the future generations of the church of Christ. Showing them how to walk and follow Christ is something that teachers must always remember to do. Parents send their children to a covenant school to gain knowledge according to a Christian perspective. It is our job as teachers to give them the knowledge and understanding of how to live a Christian life and display that to others in the world around us.

If we as teachers are not living a strong spiritual life, we will not be helping the students grow in theirs. It is my goal to see the growth of the fruits of the Spirit in my students as well and be an example to them in my everyday walk. We must show self-sacrificial love all day and have positive attitudes even in times of distress. We must have peace with the other teachers and make sure there is harmony between the students. Be patient when a student is not grasping a concept right away. Be kind to the students, treat them with respect, and have a welcoming atmosphere. Have a strong faith and belief in Christ, and make that manifest to those around you. Be humble and down-to-earth, putting yourself in the students’ shoes to give them empathy. Have self-control and be slow to anger. This is not easy to do, especially by our own means. We cannot gain these qualities by ourselves. The producing of these fruits is sometimes spiritually painful; however, the goal is the blessed life of living in these fruits and glorifying God in this (Smit 2012).

Being a teacher will change your life more than you think, in so many ways. There is growth in relationships, knowledge, patience, and your spiritual life. Teaching has to be one of the most rewarding occupations there is. You are witnessing the future generation growing up and shaping into their future selves. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This is meant as a command not only to parents but to teachers as well. Since they stand in the parents’ place for many hours of the day, teachers having the fruits of the Spirit and then teaching the children about those fruits and how to live in them is what those students need. They need to be taught how to walk after Christ on this earthly pilgrimage, and we as teachers are a main example which they are to follow.

 

References:

Belgic Confession in The Confessions and Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches (Grandville, MI: Protestant Reformed Churches in America, 2005), 52–55.

Canons of Dordrecht in The Confessions and Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches (Grandville, MI: Protestant Reformed Churches in America, 2005), 170.

Dykstra, “The Need for Excellent School Teachers,” Standard Bearer, January 1, 2017, accessed May 11, 2020, https://sb.rfpa.org/pages/the-need-for-excellent-school-teachers/?hilite=%27teacher%27.

Heidelberg Catechism in The Confessions and Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches (Grandville, MI: Protestant Reformed Churches in America, 2005), 121–122.

C. Hoeksema, “The Fruit of the Spirit,” Standard Bearer, July 1, 1960, accessed May 11, 2020, https://sb.rfpa.org/pages/the-fruit-of-the-spirit/?hilite=%27fruit%27%2C%27spirit%27.

Lubbers, “Exposition of Galatians 5:22,” Standard Bearer, March 1, 1955, accessed May 14, 2020, https://sb.rfpa.org/pages/exposition-of-galatians-522/?hilite=%27galatians%27%2C%275%27.

Smit, The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2012), 13–21.

 

Originally published December 2020, Vol 2020 No 12