By Alan Smith
There is a beautiful legend about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, there was a large gathering in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, and from these four, the king would select the winner.
The first person presented was a wealthy philanthropist. The king was told that this man was highly deserving of the honor because of his humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor.
The second person was a celebrated physician. The king was told that this doctor was highly deserving of the honor because he had rendered faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years.
The third person was a distinguished judge. The king was told that the judge was worthy because he was noted for his wisdom, his fairness, and his brilliant decisions.
The fourth person presented was an elderly woman. Everyone was quite surprised to see her there, because her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked the part of someone who would be honored as the greatest subject in the kingdom. What chance could she possibly have, when compared to the other three, who had accomplished so much? Even so, there was something about her the look of love in her face, the understanding in her eyes, her quiet confidence.
The king was intrigued, to say the least, and somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was. The answer came: "You see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge? Well, she was their teacher!"
It was James who wrote, "Brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers." (James 3:1, GOD'S WORD). He points out that teachers will be judged more severely. He could just as easily have said that teachers have a greater responsibility, a greater challenge, a greater opportunity to affect the lives of people in a negative way. It is impossible to teach without using words, and with greater use of words comes a greater danger that the words will do harm.
But thanks be to God that there are those who face that challenge and assume that responsibility and make a diligent effort to use their words as an opportunity to affect the lives of people in a positive way. Those of you who are teachers -- who can begin to measure the tremendous effect that you are having in the lives of the children (and adults) in your classrooms? You may not see the results of your efforts for years. In fact, you may never get to see the results. But you do make a difference.
Those of you who are schoolteachers are teaching not only the basics of education, but you are teaching values and character. Those of you who are Bible class teachers are filling the minds and hearts of our children with stories of faith that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Those of you who are preachers are strengthening the family of God and bringing salvation to the lost.
So, my hat is off to all of you who are teachers because you make a difference!
"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach." (Romans 12:6-7)
Have a great day!
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the White House church of Christ in White House, TN, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org