Wednesday, September 17, 2008


As a teacher in a Christian school, my desire is for my students to be like Christ. Ideally, that they would imitate me as I imitate Christ.

In Ephesians 5:1, Paul writes:

Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children.

The word therefore calls us back to 4:27 where Paul writes:

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.

We are to imitate God. In holiness. In forgiveness. In patience.

The Greek word “imitate” is the same word from which we get the word mimeograph.

A mimeograph was a machine that first required the use of a typewriter. A typewriter was used to cut out a stencil of a printed page. This stencil was wrapped around a drum, and ink was transferred to white paper in the areas where the stencil was cut out.

A later development was the ditto machine, or spirit duplicator. This machine utilized a special paper in which text was handwritten or typed on a paper containing carbon ink, usually purple. The ditto “master” was then placed on a metal drum. As the drum was turned, either automatically or by hand crank, mineral spirits would dissolve just enough ink on the master to make a copy on white paper. A spirit master could often make up to 500 copies of a document before running out of ink.

This process was widely used in schools for years until photocopying became the norm.

Dittos, as they were called, were good likenesses of the original, but were often blotted or smeared with purple ink.

In our attempt to imitate God, we will not be perfect. Like the dittos that rolled off the duplicating machine, we will be useful, but we will not be perfect images of the original.

As teachers we need to remember that they too will be imperfect images of the original. The process of becoming Christlike takes time. And patience. And forgiveness.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday Afternoon Thoughts

It's the end of the fifth day of school. Two days last week. Three days this week. Actually four, but the high school is off-campus tomorrow for Camp Day.

Camp Day is a day of fun games and challenging Bible messages from a local pastor. Typically, the day sets the spiritual tone for the high school for the school year. In many ways, the senior class sets the tone. The underclassmen look to the seniors for their example.

I will miss most of Camp Day tomorrow. I have an apppointment in the morning to have my stitches (from my biopsy) removed. And another appointment in the afternoon. In between, my wife and I will drop by the camp to have lunch and take in a chapel session.

By God's grace, this school year is off to a good start for me personally. Although I am tired at night, and often in much pain by mid-afternoon, I wake up in the morning excited to teach another day. I guess that's the way it is when you are doing something that you love. When you are doing what you were called to do.

My daughter, a ninth grader, has been a true servant to me. She helps me get organized each morning. She makes sure I have enough water to drink. She brings me my lunch.

The other students are also helpful. They help pass out papers, collect papers, get materials for me.

Their cooperation and patience with me help enable me to remain in the classroom.

Next week is the first full week of school. The first such week is usually the hardest. Folks that do not teach - those with regular jobs that work all year - laugh at us and mock us, but they do not understand what being in the classroom is like.

From 8:10 until 2:50, my day is planned out for me. I am blessed to have a 25-minute lunch break apart from my students, but most of the other teachers have lunch duty. Have you ever eaten in the same room with 35 junior high students or 50 high school students? I teach six different academic subjects and proctor a study hall each day. The last "hour" of each day is my planning period. For most of the day I am "on task" with groups of students ranging in size from ten to thirty. I am constantly making decisions that involve their care and their future well-being.

I have held jobs where I could plan my own schedule - go to the restroom when I wanted, eat when I wanted, take breaks when I wanted, make a phone call when I wanted. Being a teacher does not allow for such freedom and flexibility.

I am not complaining. But if you have never been a teacher, you might stop and reconsider before making any comments about working only nine months out of the year or having three months of vacation. Many of us use our vacation time to evaluate the previous year and plan for the year ahead. Yes, the schedule of a teacher is great - especially if you have children of your own, but it does not make up for the busy-ness and stress of the school year.

Some teachers, no doubt, have it easier than others. Some may not take their position of influence serious enough. But most do. And most work hard.

I love being a teacher. I love working with young people and helping them grow in their knowledge and wisdom. I love it when the lights turn on and they grasp a concept. I love the unpredictability of the students. I love the various personalities present in the classroom.

I love the fact that my students teach me as much, if not more, as I teach them. I touch their lives and they touch mine.