The Blessings of Teaching in a Lutheran School4 min read

My vague intention, when I enrolled at Concordia University Ann Arbor, was to become a social worker. I credit my father, who was a pastor, and my mother, a teacher, for their encouragement to seek God’s will. By the end of my freshman year, God had shown me that teaching was to be desired and being in the Word was required. I confidently completed my teaching degree at Concordia University in Seward, Neb. I never looked back.

When I contemplate the blessings of my teaching career, I am overwhelmed. The areas in which I grew the most, and which sustain me to this day, can be summed up in the following categories:

  1. Devotions with Faculty

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:24-25

Daily morning devotions with my colleagues were a joyful source of encouragement. We studied God’s Word, shared what was happening in our classrooms and our homes, and reflected on the events we anticipated in the upcoming day. Sometimes we laughed; sometimes we cried. Always we turned together to the Lord in prayer. Our faculty devotions set the tone for the day and gave me the proper attitude as I entered my busy classroom.

  1. Watching my Students Grow in Faith

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.”  Psalm 111:10

Teaching the faith has always been a joy to me. Throughout my career I taught a number of grades, mostly kindergarten. Children have interesting questions, and I was often amused by their curiosity. One day, when I talked about our sinful nature, I asked the children if they understood that they sin daily. One self-confident little kindergartner responded, “I’ve been up since 7:00 and I haven’t sinned yet.” I realized we needed to review our discussion on original sin! Another day, I asked my students if they knew what a prophet was. “It’s the money your mom makes when she has a garage sale,” offered one child. Most of the time, though, I think I got my point across.

  1. Resolving Conflict

“He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” Proverbs 10:17

It was important to me to help students resolve conflict in a Christ-centered way. I followed the advice of Isaiah when he wrote in Isaiah 43:26, “Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.” I asked each child involved to write down (or dictate) their understanding of the disagreement, who was involved, and their suggestion for solving the problem. I then discussed their answers with them and prayed with them about a resolution. Usually, that solved the problem. When we could not reach a consensus, I learned that the quickest way to resolve the issue was to suggest the students involved miss their next recess to continue discussions. Apparently no problem was too great to give up recess.

  1. Personal Growth

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 

I learned quickly that, in order to teach Scripture, I had to immerse myself in God’s Word. I now know that is one of the occupational benefits of being a Lutheran school teacher. Once, while unburdening my challenges with my students to my mother, she asked me, “Have you remembered to pray daily for your students?” From that point on, I did just that. Through daily prayer and personal devotions, I presented my frustrations to God and saw myself growing in my own faith. Often God did not change the behavior of an unruly child–He simply gave me better coping skills.

  1. Sharing and Living My Faith

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13

In August of 2014, two months after I retired from 33 years of teaching, I was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). I am thankful that, during my career, God showed me again and again that He was at my side, sometimes leading, sometimes carrying me. I know He will continue with me on this journey. I smile when in my daily devotions He leads me to sections of Scripture which seem to have been written just for me. I turn often to Romans 5:5, where St. Paul reminds me, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.”

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Photo (c) Shaun Menary/Lightstock

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About the Author

Miriam L. Sohn taught in Lutheran schools for 33 years, 21 of these at Our Savior, Lansing, before retiring in June 2014. She served on the Michigan District Early Childhood Cabinet and Lutheran Adult Gathering Committee.

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