Why I Became A Teacher: The Power of Yes & Love
"Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."
Why a teacher?
That is a question that I truly asked GOD, and myself, wrestling with it for a long time after I said yes to being a teacher. I love to hear stories of people growing up and doing what they always studied for, and wanted to do, but if you were to ask me if I always wanted to be a teacher my answer would be no. I frequently heard the saying “those who can’t do teach” and I believed them. I wanted to save people, I wanted to impact the world, I wanted to be an artist, and I wanted to do; Teachers “didn’t do”. Plus did you read that verse above? "No thank you GOD. No way, not for me, not unless you teach me your word first." But He had other plans...
When I became a missionary, I was excited to do but quickly I noticed I was surrounded by teachers and I had a big humbling reality check. These people were doing a lot! And, they weren't teachers because they could do, they were teachers because they first had love, and a passion to save, impact and change lives, and from these things they found the best way to do that was through teaching and so they chose to teach. I have come to this conclusion as well, and have come to see teaching through new eyes…
“To do is to impact, change, and awe the world but leave it wanting and wondering how.
To teach is to impact, change, and awe but leave it with knowledge, understanding, and tools on the how-to, which inspires and shapes the future.”
I can do and show people what can be done, I can do it for them, show them how to live, etc, but unless I teach them how they will remain spectators of reality and life that could be theirs. I want to change the world and for me that no longer means just doing but equipping those who desire to know how they can as well, this is what changes the world.
But as I said I didn’t always have this perspective. Here at YWAM we have a saying “do first then teach”, this motto is a guideline of sorts that protects us and others. Teach what you know, what you can do, have done, and by doing so you are not a hypocrite, understand the path you are leading others down and can help them navigate it. If you want to teach something first do it so as to not lead others astray. I really like this motto because it gave me peace regarding that scary 1st verse after GOD was like "Haha I taught you My word and I want you to be a teacher Destiny", but I found that motto challenging as well. So when I was asked to teach art my first thoughts were “I have never done that before”, yet I said yes because I know art like the back of my hand and love to grow in it. I was asked to teach math, and I said yes, with the same thought process; “I have never done this before, and I didn’t like math growing up but kinda do now, they need help, yes”. I said yes because I believed I could do it because I knew the subjects, I saw a need but what I didn’t realize is that there was so much more to teaching than simply knowing what to do. To be an effective teacher you must also be an active, constant learner for those you minister to and I can say there was not a single day I didn’t learn at least 5 things about how to be better. The part of that motto that was the most challenging to me isn’t even stated but is the most important for it gives purpose to the motto and that is “why even teach?” At first, I said yes because I was asked, I saw a need, I had the ability, and time and wanted to give and make an impact. But throughout my first year of teaching my lack of confidence, understanding, and the reason behind my why beyond myself left me with the constant thought, and anger “why am I a teacher? I never wanted to be a teacher. Why GOD would you ask me to be one? Make me one? Why?”
In these moments GOD reminded me of Moses' story. GOD called him to be a leader and lead the people. Moses grew up in Pharaoh's household as a son meaning he was given the best education, speaking ability, and knowledge on how to be a leader but he didn’t believe he could and didn’t want to. I see this as GOD meets Moses at the burning bushes and tells him what he is to do and Mose argues with Him, doubting his abilities, success, and desire to but eventually says yes. I wonder if he experienced an internal battle on his yes, searching for his “why” as I did. Yet in his “yes”, we see him growing to change nations, and generations far beyond his lifetime. I like to think that is the power of saying yes to GOD and can only hope that my yes will have a powerful, lasting impact, but only GOD knows. I also wonder if as he walked in obedience of his yes that is where he obtained his why I wonder this because that is what GOD has done for me.
I said yes even though I didn’t go to school for teaching, I didn’t have experience as a teacher, just tons of love and experience with kids, a lot of art school, a lot of math classes, and a fear/love for GOD. To be honest the lack of education and the feeling that I have a right to teach has been the biggest battle that I am still battling now and again. I really value education and see it as a big key to opening doors, but sometimes struggle to see how you can truly open those doors, or have the right to do so without the key. Sometimes I feel like I simply picked the lock and broke into a space I do not have the right to be in. I now know that isn’t true but it doesn’t stop the feeling of imposture syndrome now and again. I wrestled with GOD on what I had, and all He answered me with was Matthew 14: 13-21 the story of the 5000 and the fishes and loaves. I didn’t understand at the time but can see now how He truly takes what little we have to offer, multiples it, and qualifies us to walk into what He has called us to.
Despite my lack, He provided. He provided by teaching me lesson planning, grading, rubric making, curriculum making, behavior management, classroom management, reaching multiple grade levels (1-12), and teaching catering to their learning abilities and needs. I learned about mental health, learning disabilities, neurodivergent needs, and learning styles. I learned not only about these things but worked within them in meltdowns, tantrums, lesson planning, and teaching, engagement. I learned how to teach not only in English but in Spanish. I taught 18 classes a week and 22 by the end of the year, with successful students. I learned how to engage, inspire and celebrate and so much more. How? GOD. I literally have no idea besides Him that I have done all this and despite all, I have learned, grown, and done I still question do I have a right? Yes, because it is not by the world's standards, ways, or understanding we are called and qualified but by GOD’s alone. The point is throughout this whole journey of learning, growing, doing, and wrestling with GOD I finally found my confidence, and my why, and can say I truly want to be a teacher not just because someone asked me to, or there was a need but because I see the power, impact, joy and I want to.
So what is my why? How do I now have confidence? It’s a really complex answer but in the simplest terms of expressing one's heart, it goes like this.
Why? Because I love, love. I was asked once what was the purpose of life and my answer was “to love and be loved”. (1 Corinth 16:14; Let all you do be done in love) To love and be loved is to live in love. Receiving and giving love, seeing yourself and others as worthy, and deserving of love which is:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails. (NIV84)
It means giving, serving, seeing, pursuing, believing, fighting for, sacrificing, encouraging, celebrating, walking presently with, knowing, and accepting yourself, things, and the people gifted to your life. To love is a gift that should not be withheld like it is a privilege but given freely as GOD has given because He deemed the what standard of love is, and showed it to us through His Son Jesus Christ. The standard is to simply be, and love is given freely because it is what every human being is entitled to just because they are loved and created by GOD, in the image of God, for GOD.
But how does this have anything to do with teaching art, math, or learning/doing anything you’ve said you’ve learned and done? Because if you look throughout history, if you asked the scholars, or better yet your neighbor or perhaps yourself “If you could label something someone has done that changed your life or others' lives what was the motive behind it?” You may only see the surface level of the motive for example like why did we fight for woman's rights and equality rights? While yes the correct answer would be equality but the motive behind that was love. Women and men saw the value, and worth of women and loved them enough to want a better future for them; they loved. Love is what softens, reaches, impacts, ignites, and changes lives and the world. Just look to the cross and you will see it all.
I have the greatest opportunity to love through teaching because through teaching I get to practice and strive to do 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Through teaching, I have the ability to impart surface-level information, skills, and techniques that I love and see great value in, but it's not the kind of information like how to find the area of a can or cylinder that will change the world but how I teach it. What truly matters is how I teach, how I show up, and how I choose to give, model, and teach love through these areas, for that will impart value, worth, and characteristics that will change the world. I want to be a teacher who loves those I teach in all the ways I was loved, all the ways I wish I was loved, and all the ways I aspire to be and give love.
How? By being present with the now of where my students are. It is seeing and hearing them. It looks like seeing where they are going, the steps to get there, and helping them grow into a person capable of being, and sustaining that bright future, by accepting and being ok with who they presently are, understanding that they can get there but it takes time and growth is a process. They may not be able to do something or receive something right now but as long as I love them for who they are not what they can do, them being them is enough and it gives me the ability to impart love that will grow and propel them into who they could be. It looks like celebrating, encouraging, understanding, and challenging them. It is to discipline not with the intent to control or punish but with understanding and the intention of discipline which shape through teaching what is good or bad.
Ex. My student hit another kid because they didn’t want to play with them. I had two ways to deal with this behavior. The first option was to punish, shame, and control which would not have imparted love or taught the child an understanding of why hitting isn’t a way to get what you want or why they felt that way, or how they could get their needs met. The second option was to see behind the behavior to the need and thought process, that lead to the behavior and not dismiss it but hold that child accountable with consequences that matched their behavior and teach them how to respond and get their needs met. I chose option two. The student was made to sit in time out where they were not left to be angry alone but they were listened to, given techniques on how to cool down, and given space to think. After their brains were out of emotional reasoning and they were able to listen to reason we went over what happened, why their response was wrong and how to handle and respond instead of reacting next time, before they had to apologize and take accountability. If I had just punished them, then the characteristics and lessons I have and know how to use to love wouldn’t have been given and that child never would have had an opportunity to grow. This was a very young student but the point is loving isn’t easy, it pushes us to our limits and challenges our character, it has to be repeated again and again. I want to be a teacher that can be in these hard moments of love with all ages and still show and impart love even when I do not want to, or think another deserves it because let us be honest we all have moments like this. I can do this because I have chosen to fight myself to respond in love and I prepare myself to do so through educating myself and practicing; Do first then teach.
Why do I want to teach/love like this? Because I was given that kind of love from others, but mainly from GOD that taught me to respond the same way. Also because I wasn’t given love and had/have to fight very hard to heal, relearn patterns and learn to love and be healthy and a person of love. I am far from perfect, I do not always love correctly but teaching not only lets me change the world by doing something I love (art and math) it opens doors to give and impart love while also changing my world. My students love me back in return and even when they do not it changes my world by giving me the opportunities to practice and grow in love.
I want to be a great teacher because I believe it has the ability to shape the future beyond knowledge but through close, personal discipleship where I can impart characteristics of love that will make our world and their lives brighter, better, and full of love. I have the confidence to say and believe in this and that I can do this not because of myself but because of GOD. I trust Him to accomplish this through me because I have come to know and trust Him that even if I fall short (which I will, we all do) He is enough to fix or make it better. I have this faith and trust because through my own failings in personal life, healing, and learning to be and accept the love, He has always been there to fill in the gaps, challenge, change, heal and shape my life in a way that is beyond recognition and far better and beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
So ya, like I said it was a complicated, complex answer and there is so much more to it but the bottom line is, love. So, I challenge you to say yes to where GOD calls you to, and practice love above all for it will change the world.
This testimony and topic is on my heart as I prepare for school to start in a month and I reflect and remind myself on how to be a better teacher this year. This year my personal word for the school year is "Simplify & Joy" because I was wrapped up in doing, proving, and thought to doing so was what was going to impart love, last year I lost sight of the joy of loving, and now know to do so is way simpler then I thought. But our class's word is "Fruit" where we will focus each month on a fruit of the spirit like patience in drawing class to develop characteristics of love while learning academics. I am so excited for this coming year
I'd appreciate your prayers as I get ready for this coming year where I will continue to teach art grade 1-12 and grade 5 math. Also, my dad is very sick at the moment so if you would please pray for answers, and healing I'd greatly appreciate it.
Thank you for reading, I hope it inspires you and changes your world too.