When working in Christian education, the work can often seem to bear little or no fruit. Unlike a pastor or missionary who can more readily evaluate the fruit of his labor by measuring the spiritual and sometimes numerical growth of his ministry, the Christian educator will not normally see the result of his influence for many years. In some cases, he’ll never see it this side of Heaven. Since that is the case, it is easy to get discouraged and to wonder if teaching is the best use of our lives in the cause of Christ.
In our passage, we find David at the end of his reign. He addresses his subjects and speaks of God’s working in his life. We see that David at one point had the desire to build the house of the Lord. It was the last vision of his life and yet God would not allow him to do it. Instead, God called Solomon to the task of building the house. In the paragraphs that follow, we will draw some parallels to Christian education from David’s preparation for the Temple. David will represent the Christian educator and Solomon will represent the students.
David’s Calling to the Work (4–7)
David recognized that, while it wasn’t God’s will for him to do the work, God’s calling for him was just as special. He is essentially saying, “Even though God didn’t allow me to build the house of the Lord, I’m still amazed that he chose me to be king of Israel over all my brethren.”
After teaching for a period of time, especially in Bible college training workers for the ministry, I sometimes get a very strong desire to go out and do the work myself. It is humorous to me that my dissatisfaction is strongest when I am doing piles of mundane work like grading papers or entering grades.
If we’re not careful, the devil will try to minimize the calling of God on our lives. He would have us think that what we do is secondary and not as important as being a pastor or missionary. Regardless of whether or not God allows us to do pastoral work, he has called us all to prepare and equip the next generation for the work. Just the fact that He has called us into ministry is truly amazing (1 Timothy 1:12).
Remember that God has chosen you to be right where you are. He could have used anyone, but He sovereignly chose you. God has also chosen each student whom you teach. Of all the young people in the entire world, God has ordained that you would influence those select few in your class. View every point of contact and every interaction with students or their parents as a God-ordained opportunity to live out the call of God in your life. Finally, remember that the ministry we have with these students has the potential to impact generations.
Imagine if my life and influence were represented by a glass of water. I have two choices of how to use my life. I can pour it out on the ground doing a lot of “work” in the ministry, or I could pour my life and influence into the people God has put in my sphere of influence. They would then pour it into the lives of those they influence, and the work of the Lord would multiply (2 Timothy 2:2).
David’s Challenge for the Work (9–10)
As teachers, we have important responsibilities to our students.
First of all, we must exemplify the right walk. We are not all teachers, but all of us teach. We do not all stand before a classroom, but we all have an audience. We may not all have a position of prominence, but we all have a position of influence. David challenges Solomon to “Know the God of thy Father and serve him with a perfect heart and a willing mind.”
The young people I grew up with always wanted to be “like Mike.” Michael Jordan was an athletic idol in their minds, not because he was rich or famous or simply a charismatic guy. He was their role model because he won the games. I’m convinced that it is most important for our students to see us succeeding and having victory in our Christian lives. As they see us “winning the games,” our prayer should be that they would want to be “like Christ.”
Our second responsibility is to encourage the students for the work. The people who made the most impact on my life were not the ones who had the most amazing lectures, the wittiest answers to tough questions, or even the most successful ministries. The people who impacted my life were the ones who cared to know about my life and took the time to encourage me purposefully and personally.
David’s Contribution for the Work (11–20)
The most obvious role of a teacher, after he has settled God’s calling on his life and understood his responsibilities to the students, is to contribute to their future work.
In our passage, we first see David giving Solomon the pattern he had “by the Spirit.” We as teachers have a pattern received from the Spirit: the Word of God. We must never forget that our goal in Christian education is not to mindlessly and aimlessly give facts and information for the students to memorize. The goal of Christian education is to establish a pattern of biblical thinking in the students.
Secondly, David equips him with the materials and tools needed. Every class, every skill, every tool we give the students should be given with ministry in mind. How can they use these skills to serve the Lord?
Finally, David sends Solomon off in faith and encouragement to do God’s work. Our job doesn’t finish when the students graduate. We are to constantly and continuously seek to encourage them as long as the Lord would allow us to do so. As you prepare to influence the next generation this year, be sure of God’s calling, seek to challenge the students, and remember to contribute the pattern, tools, and encouragement they need to be all they can be for the cause of Christ.