I have always enjoyed teaching in a classroom setting. The bulk of my teaching experience was done at the college level, spending 16 years in a small Bible college teaching things like Greek, hermeneutics, homiletics, logic, history and several books of the Bible. A few years ago, though, I gave that up, as my schedule of evangelism was making me miss too many nights of school.
So for the last few years I have been, ministry wise, a pastor first and foremost, and then, after that, an evangelist and a writer.
But now I am going back to the classroom once again. I will be teaching an early morning Bible class four days a week at a large Christian school. The schedule is perfect, being early enough that it will not interfere with anything church-related, and they are willing to be flexible as well with my schedule of evangelism.
And so, at 50 years of age, I am becoming a high school teacher for the first time ever.
High school. As in, “I am pretty sure I remember this, but 1987 was a very long time ago.”
I am actually incredibly excited about this. To step into a classroom of 16 students, look them eye-to-eye and teach the Word of God to them is something that I would crawl across broken glass to do. But if you would be so kind as to bear with me, before I tell you the source of my excitement, I do have some questions that you, my readers, may be able to help me with.
In 1987, “groovy” was still a thing, “bad” meant good, and if you called someone “fat,” you’d better be ready for a fight, even if in your head you had been spelling it “phat,” which apparently today means something like “amazing” rather than “obese.” So has anyone produced a lexicon of modern teen language that I can study before I step into the classroom and say something like, “Howdy, boys and girls, I hope your summer was peachy keen!”
In the faraway dark ages of my high school days, all of the teachers (who were probably only in their 40s) all seemed to be ancient and on the edge of death to me. Now I am going to be the one that everyone asks barbed questions like, “What was Abraham Lincoln really like?” So is there some secret mental technique that will allow me to look at myself in the mirror each morning without murmuring, “You know, I really should consider more fiber in my diet, and maybe even updating my will”?
When I was the high-schooler, it was understood that the students really did not know much and they could turn to the adults for knowledge. Now the tables have turned so drastically that I have to seek out my own children to show me how to do things like download an app, turn on and operate the television and make my phone sync with the radio in my vehicle. So is there some confidence-building mechanism I can employ to feel even remotely qualified to teach young people that are in many things already smarter than I am?
Help me out here, folks.
Semi-facetious questions aside, I really am excited about this opportunity. And the reason I am so excited can be summed up in the word “potential.” As I said, I am now 50 years old. I am still (praise God) in excellent health, physically stronger than I have ever been in my life and with abundant energy. But that does not change the fact that I very likely only have two or three more decades to live, if that much. My potential is therefore about two-thirds spent already. The precious young people that I and other teachers across the land will be standing in front of to teach have most of their lives and nearly all of their potential still lying ahead of them.
People used to say that kids should be seen but not heard. I do not know where they got that, but I know that they did not get it from Scripture. It was a kid named Samuel who God tapped to lead the nation as the last and probably greatest judge of Israel. It was a kid named David who killed Goliath when all of the adults were trembling in fear. It was four kids named Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who God chose to use in Babylon rather than any of the adults who simply bowed and went along with the program, no matter what the program was.
The greatest investment that any of us will ever make on this Earth is an investment in educating and guiding generations to come. In fact, God wrote the very book of wisdom in Scripture, the book of Proverbs, for this stated reason, as Proverbs 1:4 tells us: To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
School is in session; let’s start investing.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at email@example.com.