August 4, 2014

Let's Chat About the Vocation Side of My Life for a Sec...


"What makes you think you're more qualified then me to teach my children?" 
"You think having a degree makes you a good teacher, don't you?"
"If parents honestly loved and cared about their children they wouldn't send them to public school."
"Public education is just out to brainwash children, why on earth are you participating in this?"
"How can you be a strong Christian and choose the line of work you have?"

These were just a handful of questions and comments a young homeschooling mom blasted me with, quiet angrily I might add, recently when she found out I was an education major. I just stood there dumbfounded and silent, while she ranted. Then went off and ugly-cried for nearly an hour. 

Because I don't know how to answer to these kinds of questions. Because I was hurt that somebody who I don't really even know would accuse me of having a weak faith for the career path I've chosen. Because I felt like what she was saying was that my job won't be valuable, and that those who make the same choice she has are making the better, more godlier, more valuable decisions. Because my mind started wondering if this was what my friends who were homeschooled actually thought about me and weren't saying it to my face.

After I calmed down, I heard that still, gentle, steady voice (God): Natalie, this is where I've called you, where I've lead you to go. I'm the one equipping you for this service. Keep going. Be at peace.  

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One of the biggest lessons I've had to learn from this short season of college is that for the Christian, there is no difference between kingdom and non-kingdom work. There's fault in thinking that only some sectors and contexts qualify as God's work. (Something I wrote about here as well: Not a Missions Girl (???))

There's an old story that tells of a man who became a Christian, and in his enthusiasm thought he ought to become an evangelist or go into church ministry in some capacity. So he asks this well-known theologian, Martin Luther, what he should do. Luther first asks the man what his current employment is, to which the man replies, "I'm a cobbler." Luther than responds, "Then make a good shoe, and sell it at a fair price." (He explains later that "The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.")

There are a couple of implications of that interaction, one of which is that no matter what career field we find ourselves in, God wants us to steward our vocation in such a way to draw others to Him, and bring honor to the Gospel, just like He wants us to do with everything else in our lives. Because get this--if Colossians 3:23 is true, then really your boss is not the ultimate person you answer to (although, respect their authority, because that's biblical and right), but God is your boss that trumps any earthly boss.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. ~Colossians 3:23
Just because as a Christin in this field of I cannot explicitly share my faith, God does not give me any excuses to not do so implicitly. (Something that I, along with fellow Christian public educators are very, very, very passionate about.) You do not have to travel halfway across the globe to find poor, in-need children--I promise you, they exist in the schools just blocks away from you. The roots of public education in America started with Christian men and women who were passionate about serving all of the young. I want to be a part of working to redeem that. God asks us to seek justice for all, not just those who we think are deserving of it or who we think will then join our "team" if we do. (That's a form of elitism, and I've never been able to find justification for such an attitude or mindset from scripture.)

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So I'm sorry I didn't have any answers to those questions. But I'm not sorry for going in the direction God has steered me towards.

I've never found myself sitting around thinking that I'm more qualified to teach your children. I promise you that the thought has never even occurred to me. You're their parents, which is something I'll never be in their lives. I know plenty of godly parents who choose other ways to educate their children, like my own, and it's not because they don't love their kids. And you know what? Their children, myself included, we've grown to love the Lord deeply. And lastly, many of the teachers in public education... they're not out to brainwash your child. I know we watch news reports that talk about various incidents that are frustrating and discouraging, but there are still strong Christians within the public schools who are seeking to do the best they can for their students. They love them, go home and worry about them--sometimes to the point of loosing sleep, and cover them in prayer. Because this is our kingdom work, and in God's economy, all kingdom work is valuable. He lets none of it go to waste.

Homeschooling mamas: What you do matters. I don't want you to feel any other way, because it's the kingdom work God has laid before you. But, do you think... maybe you could see mine as just as valuable? Please? 

P.S. If you're a regular reader here, I'd so appreciate if you would pray for me during this fall semester as I'm student teaching, and coming to the close of my college education and the beginning of a new chapter work-career wise.

~If you want to get a more comprehensive view of public education from a Christian perspective a great place to start is by talking with the teachers in the actual trenches. Also, check out Nicole Baker Fulgham's book Educating All God's Children.

15 comments :

  1. Natalie, I'm so sorry that you were upset! I used to think the same as you, that certain jobs were more 'Godly' but, you know, we're called to be lights in dark places. Not that the classroom is necessarily a dark place (although some pupils may disagree ;)), but you can be a light and shine so brightly for the kingdom. I'm sure that God will cause people to cross your path whom you'd never meet if you hadn't been obedient at square one and followed His command, your hearts desires which are His hearts desires, to choose this profession. After seeing the background work of school teacher at my previous job, I'd say you were very brave to choose this career path, and God has equipped you so well for it. I've no doubt that He will use you, gladly, wherever you are planted. I read this morning Philippians and look at this...

    Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

    Whatever happens. Wherever you go. Whatever you do. Do it as Christ would. And I am absolutely certain you will :)
    Keep running, little one! He's marked out a path for your feet and you just keep on running :)

    Love xxx

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    1. Thank you Laura =) You're always speaking encouraging words friend

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  2. you are going to do AWESOME. i just know it. and for someone to accuse you of those things that that mama did, she has bigger things affecting her attitude than anything you did or have done or are going to do. so sad that she directed that anger towards you. but i know from experience that being in the public school system as a teacher, you are going to have the opportunity to touch so many kids' lives you can't even imagine. and some of those kids are going to be deeply affected just in the way that you treat them, that even if you don't necessarily take a particular interest in them directly, they will still know you care about their wellbeing and it could change their entire life.

    some homeschooling mamas would do well to recognize this out of a Christian public school teacher.

    you are beautiful and God has called you to do great things. i'm excited to see what happens during your student teaching. i'm certain you're going to make one heck of an impact :)

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    1. That makes two of us Natalie! Praying you find a new school here soon!

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  3. Wow. I can't believe someone said that to you. You will make an amazing teacher. I'll be praying your student teaching experience is wonderful and that it prepares you in the best way to enter the teaching world!

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    1. Thanks Allison =) I can use any and all prayer!

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  4. Aww, Natalie, I am so sorry to hear about this. That is terrible. As someone who was homeschooled and plans to homeschool her own children one day, I promise not every homeschooler thinks like this, nor do all of your homeschooled friends agree with that woman. I believe as long as it is honest work, God uses every career and every path of life. I loved your story about Martin Luther as well! I will have to save that one. Haha, it really has me thinking about the bank I work for. They pride themselves on being a Christian organization and I must say we mostly are. We don't stamp crosses or verses to every $1 bill or bless everyone that calls, but I think overall our faith leads us to respect one another and our customers honestly. So glad you were able to see past this difficult moment. :)

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    1. Loving just the whole honest work deal =) If it's done unto the Lord than it's valuable.

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  5. I am so sorry you had to sit there and be told all of that. I am sorry that this person threw all their objections against the public system to you and tried to make you small. You are doing an excellent work, because you are doing what God has called you to do . . . and that makes it excellent work. You are serving the needy and broken children who absolutely NEED Christian influence in their lives. They need to be shown compassion, patience, respect, acceptance. Even though you cannot outwardly speak of Jesus (say, like a missionary in a different country can while they are providing their care), you still have the opportunity to share Him through your actions, motives, and words . . . and I have NO doubts you will be faithful in that. You will have days you do not feel excellent and probably want to crawl under a rock because you're overwhelmed with all the burdens these kids carry each day into your classroom. But take heart! This is where God has placed you because He is doing an excellent work in YOU as well as the future kids who will be blessed to be taught by you.
    As a PNP working with a lot of the same kids you will see in the classroom, I applaud and respect all the work teachers do in serving the most vulnerable children. You many not be in a different country, but be sure, you are "out in the trenches" yourself and dealing with all sorts of hard things. Do not let the words of people who do not understand bring you down from where God has placed you to serve. He will supply all your needs and do a great, EXCELLENT work in you, Natalie!!!

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  6. Oh Natalie, how I want to take you to coffee and let you talk and talk. I am so sorry you had such things said to you...your heart is beautiful and seeks God deeply. You are doing a good thing by going into teaching. You will be able to love on children who may not receive much affirmation other places. You are going to make a difference, and it will be so beautiful.

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    1. I'll let you take me out to coffee anytime. Now I just actually need to be in your neck of the woods...

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  7. As someone who has only ever attended and worked in public schools, I can tell you for certain that we need more Christian teachers. The kids need your influence in their lives. While we do not talk implicitly about our beliefs to students, there is a whole lot of room for loving the little one with Christ's love. Many of my coworkers are also Christians. We use our common faith to encourage each other during the more challenging times.

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    1. Thank you for visiting and the encouraging comment Leelee!

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  8. Oh, Natalie, I'm so sorry this woman took out her woes of public education on you. I've never heard of this perspective, so thank you for sharing it with everyone. For the longest time, I too thought the only "acceptable" Christian occupation was being a pastor. That is, until God spoke to me, calling me to work in public education. Your classroom is truly your mission field! And I love how you say that there is no job that is not Kingdom work. Amen! Natalie, you're going to be a fabulous teacher. I pray that the Lord will give you the strength, grace, wisdom, and love you need to bless your students. Praying for you in this next semester! Lord knows student teachers need all the prayer they can get :) Love you, girl!

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