Question and Answer

Eternal Significance of Work


I am having difficulty connecting my work (as an assistant teacher) with eternity. I don't know if my work is really going to make an eternal difference. Can you help me to understand how jobs are purposeful?


There are actually many ways in which I could answer your question, but let me start with the most basic. Whatever we do, we must do to serve the Lord. It is as the apostle says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And we do so as servants of the Lord—enthusiastically—as we read in Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

But more specifically, each of us has a calling, and in that calling we should seek to see how we can glorify the Lord and proclaim the gospel. I find it interesting that in 1 Corinthians 7 the apostle tells us to be content with our calling, although he does mention that slaves should be content as well, but if they can, they should seek to be free to serve the Lord (1 Cor. 7:17–24).

But more specifically, how can you do this as an assistant teacher? I was a classroom teacher for some twenty years, while a pastor at the same time. I love the doctrine of the providence of God, and how your question was sent to me (out of the group of responding pastors), since I do think that gives me some special insight into your situation. As a Christian teacher I read the Scriptures with my students, prayed with them as a group, taught them Christian Psalms and hymns, and witnessed to their parents. I had Bible verses on the walls of my classroom and would talk often of Jesus. Each year I would give each of them a child’s story Bible for Christmas.

Also, since it was a public school, and most of my co-workers were not believers, I had many opportunities to witness to them. On more than one occasion I had people say something like, “What do you Christians think about this or that?” Since I didn’t usually tell people that I was a pastor, I would ask, “How do you know that I am a Christian?” and they would respond, “Oh, everybody knows that!”

Lest you think that this was an isolated situation, my wife was and still is a teacher, and since she generally teaches junior or senior high school, she has had many opportunities to share the gospel, both with co-workers and students, and to teach from a Christian perspective. In her case she was perhaps a little less direct than I (since I usually taught first grade, where we sang and read stories aloud more). But, for example, when she was teaching Shakespeare, she would point out the almost countless biblical allusions in his works. At other times she would wait until her students asked religious questions, and then answer them clearly and directly from the Word of God, since they had initiated the discussion.

I often had a teacher’s aide (somewhat akin to an assistant teacher), and as far as I know, none was ever a Christian. Some were competent, and others less so, and some were so clearly non-Christian and unloving towards the children that I went to the administration and asked to be relieved of their “help.” How I wished that I had had a Christian teacher’s aide in my class! I know that as a teacher, I dramatically affected the lives of my students, and at the very least, exposed them to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Had I had a Christian aide, I have no doubt that he or she could have reinforced that profound effect.

So yes, sister, I do believe that as an assistant teacher you can affect your student’s lives (and the lives of your co-workers) for all eternity—first, by serving well in your calling, and second, by doing so in a consciously Christian way by presenting Jesus Christ to those around you.

May the Lord bless you in his grace, now and forever.

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