The following is a letter of encouragement for the many English language teachers who want to glorify Christ in the classrooms and with their students. For those of us in and around Korea, this letter is meant to bless you as you start your new semester this week.
To all those called into English language teaching who belong to Jesus Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, I thank my God for each and every one of you and the work that you do. I pray that God will strengthen you, fill you with the Holy Spirit, and give you wisdom inside and outside the classroom.
I pray that Christ’s example as a teacher will inspire you to be excellent in class. Christ, our Lord, knew the Scriptures and taught them well. If you are teaching other Christians, use Scripture and prepare your lesson plans well. If you are planting seeds for the gospel, grammar and vocabulary are an important part of the lesson, but they do not have to be the focus.
I also pray that you will follow Christ’s example of engagement. He was deliberately provocative. He expressed many things that were not understood immediately. He made people question what they knew and pushed them to think differently. As you teach, expect that your students will engage you, question you, and challenge you.
As they engage you, you and the students are changing. You are becoming more Christ-like and your students will have paradigm shifts in their thinking. God is working in you and through you.
You are representing our Lord and Savior. He was the epitome of justice, love, mercy, and humbleness. Treat your students fairly, love them, and remember what it was like to be a student. It will keep you humble, compassionate, and merciful in the classroom.
Also, take a moment before class to pray. Ask our Lord, how do you see my students? This is important when they challenge you with unfinished homework, and half-hearted attempts at English. With vision, you will be able to treat your students with kindness and respect, listening to them carefully, and welcoming their questions.
Importantly, wherever you are, remember that you are part of a community of believers, a global community of Christian English language teachers. When you feel alienated, remember that the Israelites also felt alienated from God during the Exodus. But they were not. God was working to bring them into the promised land.
Lastly, do it all in love. Christ’s life on this earth, death, and resurrection needs to be reflected in you through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus be with you as you teach.
(Inspired by a comment from Suresh Canagarashah made at the closing session at the CELT 2012 Conference in Hong Kong)