A Final Word

May 3rd, 2019 | Category: A Final Word, Columns
By Daniel Gard

Since I will retire in July 2019, these last three columns will be my final messages in the Lutheran Education Journal. I write to a community of people that I love and cherish – educators. Men and women who dedicate their lives to the students that the Lord gives them. Professionals who focus their service to Christ by becoming servants to students and their families. Colleagues whom I am unworthy to call “colleagues” but who still do me the honor of allowing me to serve alongside of them.

As I write this, I cannot help but reflect on last weekend when I attended three basketball games. Now, I love to sit in the student section and, as I did, I looked at the faces of my students. Those faces were all different. Young women and young men filled the bleachers as they came together from widely diverse backgrounds. And yet here they were together, each with his or her own story, dreams, challenges and gifts. I marveled at the creativity of our Lord and His grace that I get to be a part of their lives.

Colleagues, take a moment and look at the faces of your students. See the beauty of amazing young lives that God has brought to your classroom. Know who they are – unique creations of the God of Genesis 1-2 and the objects of the overwhelming love of the same God of John 3:16. Rejoice in each one of them – both the most easy-to-love student and the most-difficult student alike. They are precious to our creating and redeeming Lord. Just as you and I are.

You are teachers, and that is high calling and privilege. When I was a seminarian, we were trained to “teach the faithful, reach the lost and care for all.” That is the definition of a servant of Jesus Christ, and it is as much the definition of a teacher as it is a pastor. In this complex and spiritually broken modern world, no one is better positioned to be that servant of Jesus than the teacher in the classroom. Pray for your students and pray with them. Share the love of God with the child whose home is suddenly broken. Embrace the young girl who finds herself with child and has no idea how to deal with what that means. Love the student that may not even know what love is all about.

Earlier I called you “colleagues” but you are more than that. You are my sisters and brothers, my partners in the Gospel. As I move into “retirement” at the close of this academic year, know that means only that my place of ministry will change. We have much to do this year and I am at your side, joining you as your fellow servant. Together we stand in awe at the Sacrifice of Calvary and in speechless wonder at an empty tomb. Together we rejoice that the very assurance of Jesus we share with students is also our assurance. “You are mine – I have called you by name. Your sin is removed and eternity is yours. I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth.” Soli Deo Gloria! LEJ