Monday, June 1, 2020

Making a Difference

By Alan Smith

    The following story comes from John Shay, Sr.:
    A group of dinner guests were sitting around a table discussing life.  A CEO decided to explain the problem with education.  He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"  He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."
    To stress his point, he said to another guest, "You're a teacher, Susan.  Be honest. What do you make?"
    Susan, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness, replied, "You want to know what I make? I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.  I make a C+ student feel like the winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor.  I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence.
    "You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder. I make them criticize.  I make them apologize and mean it. I make them write. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math and perfect their final drafts in English. I make them understand that, if you have the brains and follow your heart, and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you must pay no attention because they just didn't learn."
    Susan paused and then continued. "You want to know what I make? I make a difference. What do you make?"
    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 I know exactly what you make.  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 Cruciform Church of Christ in Spring Lake, North Carolina, may be contacted at or through the congregation's website:

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