Following a business engagement in downtown Oklahoma City, I decided to return to the Baptist Building via the scenic route. I love to drive through Heritage Hills and some of the older neighborhoods in our city. The tall trees and beautiful old homes are majestic to behold.
As I made my way to the Baptist Building, I encountered numerous school zones. School is in full swing across the state. As I watched parents picking up their children and children boarding the school buses for the trip home, I was reminded of the importance of calling all Oklahoma Baptists to prayer for our schools. Each year, I try to make this appeal for students and teachers who need our support in the long months ahead.
When I reflect on my own teachers, from first grade through high school, I am thankful for their investment in my life. These teachers tolerated my orneriness, antics and free expression (talking). They saw potential in me and worked to develop that potential in productive ways.
The trials and obstacles that public school teachers face today sometimes seem insurmountable. Christian teachers once were allowed to be openly Christian and even pray with and for their students. This is an image from the past that is no longer tolerated. In fact, to hear some tell it, Christianity is the most dangerous thing a school could allow on school grounds.
In my Norman Rockwell world, we had daily devotionals each morning on the intercom—Bible reading was a regular occurrence. In those days (just after Noah got off the ark), chewing gum and talking in class were the great infractions. Text books and library books were respectful and morally strong. A parent did not need to worry whether the books and literature their children would read might make a sailor blush. History was not redacted or shaped by liberal philosophy. Lawsuits, protests, and bullying rarely found their way to the schoolhouse.
The school setting is different now. Public teachers today walk onto the playing field of the local school grounds with multiple challenges not known in days past. Many children who come into their care are from broken homes, face poverty and have little or no parental involvement. Teachers who are underpaid and programs that are underfunded are a part of the educational experience.
One would be inclined to ask, why do many Baptists choose to enter the teaching profession? The answer—calling. Teachers I have met, almost without exception, state that they believe God has placed them in the schoolhouse as assuredly as God has placed the pastor in the church house. It is this calling that keeps these educators in the public schools and determined to make a difference.
Your children’s teachers deserve your support. Your children will spend as much and maybe more of their waking hours with a teacher than with you. The influence teachers will have in your children’s lives is huge. I would propose putting your children’s teachers at the center of your prayer life.
I would encourage you to pray for your children’s teachers and lead your children to do the same. Tell the teacher or send a note letting them know you are praying for them. Throughout the year, take time to occasionally send a note of appreciation for their impact on your children and let them know you continue to pray for them. Find ways to do random acts of kindness toward their teachers.
Schools need active involvement and support in a variety of ways. I just happen to believe that the greatest need is for Christian parents and grandparents to become prayer warriors.