Question and Answer

Secular Work and Eternity

Question:

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?

Answer:

May grace be yours and peace in Christ Jesus.  

The brothers at opc.org have sent me your question and asked me to offer an answer. 

There are actually many ways in which I could answer your question, but let me start with the most basic. Whatever we do, we should serve the Lord. 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 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, 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 don’t think the brother who forwarded your question to me knew that I was a classroom teacher for some twenty years, while a pastor at the same time. But I love the providence of God in how your question was sent to me, since I do think that gives me 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 event, 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 her 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 out loud 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, and as far as I know, none ever was a Christian. Some were competent, and others less so. 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 they could have and would have reinforced that profound effect. 

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

I’m not sure I’ve completely answered your questions, but perhaps it’s a start. There is, of course, much more that can be said. If you would like to continue this discussion, or have any other questions, you may contact me directly, or through opc.org. 

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


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

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