Teaching as a Calling

Disclaimer: This post does address God and my belief in Him, so if you find this offensive you make the choice to read.

I just began my final class towards my masters entitled, Serving and Leading in Community and World. This is a combined sociology and theology course that is required as part of my program. When I read the syllabus, I read it wanting to know what would be required of me to do in these last 8 weeks as a graduate student. I did not read it to see what objectives and key learning would take place. So when I completed my readings this week, I was really challenged with what my books said about the idea of work. When I then had to synthesize what I read and discuss it, I had to stop, process, reflect, and of course, write.

How–and why–God works through human beings:
“The term vocation comes from the Latin word for ‘calling’” (Veith, 17). In my experience, I only thought of being called into certain roles in the area of religion, as a few of my friends from high school were called into various ministries and pursued that path. Vocation, to me, simply meant career – something you chose to pursue because of personal interest. Veith’s writing has already challenged this thinking and made me see there is a reason for the choices that have been made or the path that has been taken. Yes, I believe that God certainly ordains things to occur based on His divine plan. But working through me as I am called to serve as a daughter, sister, wife, student, teacher, singer, or technology-lover just doesn’t seem quite so spiritual or God-sanctioned. Instead, I am starting to now see that God works through me in all of these capacities in order to serve Him.

Quite simply, God designed humans to show His love through service. Veith states, “The purpose of vocation is to love and to serve one’s neighbor” (39). When we are diligent in our vocation, then we are serving our neighbors. We were uniquely created to use our gifts and talents to serve others and conversely have others serve us. In fact, “…it is true that we are supposed to be dependent on other people, just as it is true that other people are supposed to be dependent on us” (Veith, 41). It is in this state of dependency that we share God’s love.

I have been called to teach. I serve my students every day by providing them the tools to learn, think critically, develop the skills required for their futures, and cultivate strong relationships that provide a sense of belonging. More specifically, I have been called to teach Latino English Language Learners. With my Spanish-speaking abilities, multiple mission experiences, and cultural immersion opportunities during my own life, I truly feel like I was called to serve mi comunidad (my community) in particular because of my cultural understanding and empathy. Serving my families is not just because of the school’s location, but rather a calling to provide support and guidance for those who are so often overlooked in our society.

In addition to my thoughts above, I want to make it known that you all have been placed in my life in some way, shape, or form that has already been designed. I do believe in God and that He places people in our lives for a reason. When I wrote my passion post as part of Angela Maiers’ Passion-Driven series, I mentioned that teaching is not a career, but rather a lifestyle. I still feel that way, but I now look at it a bit differently given the idea of it being a ‘calling’. My time spent online and in the presence of a digital community of learners is how I invest my time to further my own knowledge in order to best serve my students. Many of you do the same. The fact that we have all found each other and can support one another just provides one more reason for me to believe that we are called to do what we do for a reason.

What are your thoughts? Do you see your vocation as a teacher as something your chose to do or something that you were ‘called’ or destined to do?

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6 thoughts on “Teaching as a Calling

  1. Hi Kristina,

    I agree 100%. When I began teaching high school 20 years ago, students would ask me about going into education. I told them not to unless they felt called to do so. I went on to add that the same should be said about any vocation, but perhaps more so in a “services” field like education. I entered education because it was a calling for me. I later answered a call to vocational ministry. After fifteen years, I returned to the classroom. As I have said before, I returned to my first calling.

    However, as the years have gone by and I have a family of my own, my treatment of teaching as a “calling” has changed somewhat. I no longer treat it as something so sacred that everything else must be sacrificed for its sake. Of course, I did likewise when I was a pastor. Nevertheless, I experience fulfillment because I am following a call.

    Thanks for writing these great thoughts.

    Matt

  2. I see my classroom as my mission field. While I am not permitted legally to talk about my relationship with God to the students while they are in my classroom, they still know that I attend church and am a youth leader.

    When I was in college I wanted to go into something else. God wouldn’t let me do it. He had a plan and I discovered that crossing him was a bad idea. 🙂

    I definitely see teaching as a calling and I have expressed that often to others. Living in southwest Missouri that usually does not create an issue, but I do get into some interesting conversations on Twitter because of my beliefs.

  3. Wonderful post. I see my profession as a “calling,” but not in an unavoidable way. I have been gifted and skilled for this. I have a passion for it, but I think I chose it as much as it was chosen for me. I struggle with the whole predestined vs. free will concept and think it is more a combination that an either/or. However, I completely agree that we are “called” to serve those around us. While we can accomplish that in most any profession, I find teaching a unique opportunity to truly make a difference in a person’s life.
    -Philip

  4. I am with @wmchamberlain, that I see my classroom as a mission field. I’m here to serve, love, and teach these kids. I often pray over my classroom in the mornings before students arrive, asking for direction and purpose for the day.

    One day, when I was really grouchy about my calling, crawling on my knees picking up paper and other debris on the floor at the end of the day (while my students stood and happily chatted in line with their backpacks), my mind was overcome with prayer reminding me that I’m here to serve these students. All of a sudden, a student said, “Hey, why is Mrs. G the only one cleaning up the floor? Let’s help!” It was like God saying, “Your service has been noticed.”

    This year especially, this idea has been made more clear to me, that God and a purpose for my teaching. I hope with this new awareness, you can have more joy in your calling and prayerful purpose about what you do each day.

  5. Great post! What I am doing right now, be it for the teachers and students of my district or for teachers and students in this digital space, I believe this is what I was meant to do. I truly love to do it every single day. I am so blessed in that fact alone that I can wake up and say that each morning! For those of us that feel that way I believe, whether directly or indirectly, that someone or some thing instilled this passion in us at a moment in our lives that it would have the most impact. I am thankful for that and would wish it for everyone else!

  6. Thank you all for your comments. I was certainly hesitant to put this out there, but I really wanted people to understand that what we do is so much more than standing in front of a bunch of kids explaining things that we already are well aware of. So for commenting and explaining your own thoughts towards your role as an educator, thank you.

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