Note from the editor: We were so pleased to connect with Ronnie McBrayer, a nationally syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. He wears various “hats” as a chaplain, leader in social justice ministries, and a writer. He holds degrees in Christian Education and Theology, with post-graduate studies in Bio-Ethics and Critical Incident Stress Management. His post-Katrina relief work with Habitat for Humanity was featured by the CBS Evening News and the New York Times.
McBrayer’s weekly newspaper column, “Keeping the Faith,” began as a devotional article for his local newspaper. It is now nationally syndicated with a circulation of more than six million readers. His trust in Christ is contagious, as is his schoolboy wit and applauded story-telling style. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.
We are pleased to introduce him to our readers at Katy Christian Magazine and share his “Keeping the Faith” column.
Curtain climbers. Yard monkeys. Cherubs. Whippersnappers. Ankle biters. Urchins. I don’t know what you call them, but our children have been turned loose on the world. School is out for summer (at least it ends this week here where I live).
By the end of summer I’m afraid my description of these little animals will be a bit stronger. I’ll be ready for them to return to the halls of learning. Still, I appreciate their euphoria. I can recall the butterflies that formed in my stomach as summer break approached each year: “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.”
It was a sweet release. Now, this does not mean my summers were always easy. I worked on my uncle’s poultry farm every summer from the time I was twelve or so until graduation. And ironically, it was those hot, stinking chicken houses that convinced me to stay in school and get a college education. But as a kid anything – anything – was better than sitting in a dull classroom doing algebra problems, memorizing Lord Byron, and studying vocabulary words.
Even if that meant doing hard labor shoveling, well, you know what.
So, I still get giddy this time of year just thinking about escaping for the summer. But I’m not the only one – nor are my children. The real happiness is found in empty classrooms and the absence of teachers. At least I know my sons’ teachers are dancing. These dear souls will probably be sitting somewhere in a retirement home sixty years from now, telling horror stories about those McBrayer boys. Preachers’ kids are the worst, you know. I hope their teachers don’t tear up their contracts this summer and refuse to return.
It’s been said that if teachers were paid like professional athletes, and if athletes were paid like teachers, our society would be a much better place. Amen to that. But money is not the reason these men and women give themselves to the classroom.
Sure, teachers would take a raise (or two), but they teach for other reasons. They teach because they love working with children. They teach because they are drawn to a particular subject. Or they teach because as a student, they themselves were greatly influenced by a teacher. In fact, influence seems to be the real reason teachers teach.
Aside from teachers, only parents and close family members have the same kind of impact on youngsters. This influence is incalculable. The Apostle James said, “My brothers and sisters, most of you shouldn’t want to be teachers. You know that those of us who teach will be held more accountable.”
Why this higher standard? Because teachers have an extra responsibility, not only as adults whom little ones observe, but also as ones who encode and train our children. Teachers are the architects and designers of the future. That is, indeed, a great responsibility.
Too many times we who stand behind pulpits or travel to the “mission field” (whatever that means) monopolize the market on doing God’s work. But everyone – everyone – has opportunity to do the work of God. This is doubly true for teachers. Theirs is nothing less than a divine calling.
Sure, there are a few bad apples in the educational barrel – those who do not take their calling or responsibility seriously enough, or who give the profession a bad name – you can find these kinds of folks in all career fields. Yet, all in all, teachers are a heroic lot who deserve our support, admiration, and even our prayers. God knows if I were matched against twenty-five second graders every day, I’d want someone praying for me.
And to my sons’ middle school teachers, a final word before you slip into the rapture of a kid-less summer: My wife and I have one more son coming your way. As he has been cultured by his older brothers, he may be the most challenging one yet. Regular readers of this column can confirm this for you. So accept my apology in advance. I’ll be praying for you.