As the years have gone by, I have often wondered why God would have me become a teacher when I clearly have the desire to be a minister. Here are some reasons I've come up with.
- God wanted me to mature. Youth pastors have a reputation for doing impulsive, stupid things. To be honest, I have done my share of impulsive, stupid things. One time, I let a student eat a live cicada in the middle of class. Needless to say, had I become a pastor right out of college, I probably would not have lasted very long.
- Being a teacher has helped me to get organized. My wife and colleagues are reading this statement and laughing. I am a very disorganized individual. I have stacks of papers everywhere. However, if I need to find something, I usually can find where it is in a short period of time. As the years have gone by, I have actually gotten better. I'm not perfect, but things are looking up.
- I needed to improve my communication skills. Being a teacher requires me to talk...a lot. I have to choose my words and phrases very carefully because time of the essence and I need to make sure that the students get the main idea quickly. When I first began teaching, I was nervous and awkward in front of crowds. I now feel very comfortable.
- My students have taught me about unconditional love. Every year I get a new group of kids. Some years are great. Some years are dreadful and I'm counting down the days until the end of the year...on the first day of school. But here's the thing: even when the class is awful, I find that I still love the students. I love them when they are doing what they are supposed to do. I love them when they are driving me up the wall. I love them when I am so angry I have to sit down at my desk and not speak for a few minutes. I don't get to choose my students, but I always get to love them.
If you are a teacher, you know exactly what I am referring to with the list above. God has used my experiences as a teacher as a preparation for the ministry. I am excited about the future and am praying that these times, the good and the bad, will help me to bring others to Him.