Observing Teacher Appreciation Week: Our Lives Are Best Lived for Others

Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Wednesday, May 6, 2020
a teacher in front of a classroom, Our Lives Are Best Lived for Others

Observing Teacher Appreciation Week: Our Lives Are Best Lived for Others


In 1980, the first Tuesday in May was designated Teacher Appreciation Day. In 1985, the day was expanded to a week.

Parents who have been homeschooling their children because of the coronavirus pandemic are probably ready to celebrate teachers for the rest of the year. In his now-viral YouTube series, Some Good News, John Krasinski stated: “We here at SGN would like to start a petition that all teachers get paid 1.71 million dollars. Per day.”

CNN notes: “If there has ever been a time when appreciation for teachers is sky high, it is now. With the coronavirus pandemic closing schools, parents are now de facto homeschool teachers, discovering just how hard it is to teach.”

The article lists socially distanced ways we can thank teachers for their work, from social media campaigns to yard signs, thank-you parades, purchasing e-gift cards, and funding school supplies online.

The challenge of these days, of course, is that teachers require students. Teaching is a means to the end of educating those who are taught. Teachers do not speak into the air as though their words had some independent value. They measure success by the degree to which those they teach are able to understand and apply what they learn.

Baseball games with robots playing drums in the stands

Professional baseball games are being played in Taiwan. However, players must submit to temperature checks several times a day. Cardboard cutouts and plastic mannequins have replaced the fans in the stands. A five-member band of robots plays drums from the stands.

But it’s not the same. One team’s manager said, “It just lacks a bit of energy, that kind of excitement of a real game.” He offers his players “imagination training” in the dugout, encouraging them to envision fans watching the games from their televisions at home. He tells them, “Maybe they are not here but they are still in front of the television and cheering for us.”

One could argue that baseball doesn’t need fans in the stands to be baseball. Nothing on the field has changed. Wins and losses are recorded; players get hits or pitchers get outs. Batting averages and pitching statistics are being compiled.

But baseball was never intended as an end in itself. It creates no objective good for society. The games do not produce food, energy, or other necessities. The purpose of baseball, like that of other sports, is to entertain the fans who watch.

Three essential facts about God

Like teachers and baseball players, you and I were made to serve others by a God who serves us. Jesus testified that he “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Our God is a God who serves. We find this fact illustrated in nearly every chapter of his word. 

For example, I happened to read Numbers 9 recently, which conveys rules for keeping the Passover and describes God’s leading of his people through the wilderness. Here we learn three essential facts.

One: God can speak to us at any time in any place.

The chapter begins: “And the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt” (v. 1).

He spoke first to Moses at the burning bush, calling him by name (Exodus 3:4) and sending him back to Egypt (v. 10). He continued to speak to Moses, delivering to him the Ten Commandments and related laws (Exodus 20-31). He spoke to him to the very end of his life (Deuteronomy 34:4).

In fact, “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11).

Lest you think he won’t speak to you in the same way, remember that Jesus called us his friends (John 15:15). Our Lord speaks through Scripture, his Spirit, his creation, our circumstances, and other people.

When last did you hear his voice?

Two: We can bring every problem we face to God.

When some Israelites asked Moses a question he could not answer, he replied, “Wait, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you” (Numbers 9:8).

Moses prayed for his people in Egypt (Exodus 5:22), when they stood before the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15), when he faced opposition (Exodus 17:4), and when his people sinned (Exodus 32:11). He prayed for his sister after she led a rebellion against him (Numbers 12:13) and for the leader who would succeed him (Numbers 27:16-17).

What problem do you need to bring to your Lord today?

Three: We can trust his will.

The children of Israel followed God obediently through a wilderness they had never traveled to a Promised Land they had never seen: “At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses” (Numbers 9:23). And he led them to become a nation through whom “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). 

What challenge do you need to trust to his will?

Paying forward the service of God

Now the God who speaks, listens, and leads invites us to pay forward his service by serving others for his glory.

Jesus commended “whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name” (Mark 9:41 NKJV). Some people serve without reference to God; others speak his name but do not serve.

How will you do both today?

Publication date: May 6, 2020

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Wave Break Media

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