An Educator’s Purpose

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
    to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

Isaiah 50:4

Not too long ago I was watching Dr. Derek Keenan from ACSI talk about Christian education. During his presentation he referenced a passage that took on new significance for me. I’m sure I’ve read this passage before, but the text carried little meaning for me personally. However, now as one working in Christian education, Isaiah’s words have taken root in my soul. His words would be a fine purpose statement for a Christian educator.

Isaiah describes himself as a recipient of God’s gift in his “well-instructed tongue.” Likewise, teachers are not those who normally struggle with speaking in front of people. Oftentimes the great teachers are those who can not only communicate effectively, but also communicate in such a way where their hearers almost can feel their words. That must have been true for Isaiah’s hearers. Isaiah is full of images, descriptions of sights and sounds, and literary devices like similes and metaphors. In much the same way teachers must accept that their gift for teaching and communication was not something naturally burrowed in their DNA. Rather, the Lord God gave teachers their skills for his glory.

This well-instructed tongue is for a specific purpose, according to Isaiah. And, this might be my favorite part. Isaiah says the well-instructed tongue is for the purpose of sustaining the weary. Wow! What a wonderfully accurate description of our young people today, weary. Culture tells them to run here and there to find what their hearts long for only to find themselves not only dissatisfied, but also exhausted. Their endless pursuit for things that are incapable of satisfying the human heart is tiresome. Christian teachers’ well-instructed tongue can proclaim the healing balm for our students’ hurting soul. We know Christ, the fount of Living Water, the Bread from Heaven that leaves one full and forever satisfied. Praise the Lord!

To accomplish such a ministry each day, the Lord graciously wakes up his people, calling them to rise from their slumber morning by morning to minister to his weary ones. Let’s face it, mornings can be difficult for educators. Each morning we leave the relative safety and comfort of our homes to enter into an environment where anything can happen, and where the stakes are eternal in duration. Such a reality ought to be scary except for the fact the Lord calls people to such a ministry and then promises his presence to work in and through them. Praise the Lord!

If you are an educator, I hope you find Isaiah 50:4 in your Bible and highlight it. Take a moment and meditate on the gravity of Isaiah’s words here. Teachers, you’ve been given a gift, but the gift is not for you to hoard. Your gift is to comfort the weary, encourage the broken, and proclaim the joy that comes only in Christ.

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