Table of Contents
- The Meaning of a Triune God and Human Life
- In the Beginning…But Why?
- The Uniqueness in the Creation of Mankind
- The Mission of God and The Mission of People
- My Mission
- My Vocation
- My Philosophy of Education
- Aligning my Profession to my Vocation, as it Relates to my Students
- Aligning my Profession to my Vocation, as it Relates to the Parent
What is vocation? The term vocation, in my opinion, is a commonly misunderstood term. We have familiarized it with things, such as our jobs or careers. However, vocation is not merely just a job or career. “Vocation is one’s response to a call from beyond oneself to use one’s strengths and gifts to make the world a better place through service, creativity, and leadership” (Ebertz, 2015). Thus, through our vocations, we amalgamate with the mission of God.
In this essay, I will attempt to explain how my vocation – teaching – will participate in the mission of God.
The Meaning of a Triune God and Human Life
The Christian Doctrine of the Trinity holds that God is one God, composed of three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That is, God is one in essence and three in persons. Before I attempt to explain my vocation pertaining to the mission of God, let’s investigate what it means to claim that God is triune.
As explained by Rowland Ward, “The truth of the Trinity helps us understand the nature of personhood” (2013). As evident in the Bible, the triune God is relational. Thus, fellowship, communion, and love are common characteristics of the triune God.
In understanding the Doctrine of the Trinity, one can better understand their vocation. Humankind, created in God’s image, was created to be relational. Mankind was meant to “build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11), not tear one another down. We are meant to partake in fellowship and communion – not only with God, but one person to another.
In the Beginning…But Why?
Let’s start from the beginning. Many of us are familiar with the story of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth. But, not many pause to think about the “why?” of creation. Why did God create all that is? Simply put, God created all that is because of love.
The doctrine of the Trinity helps us to understand that the love the Father had for the Son is the “why” of creation. As per Reeves, “it was his overflowing love for the Son that motivated the Father to create, and creation is his gift to his Son” whom is the “heir of all things” (Reeves, p. 50). Before creation, God, the Father was simply loving his Son. As Jesus proclaims in John 17:24: “you loved me before the creation of the world.” The Father’s love for the Son was so abundant, that it overflowed and resulted in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Thus, God created all that is because of love. Greater so, it is this love that is the driving force of the mission of God. God’s love for his is like the foundation of the mission.
The Uniqueness in the Creation of Mankind
Another focus point regarding creation, from what I gathered in my studies, is the creation of mankind, who was created with a purpose. As mentioned above, mankind was created in the image of God and given dominion over creation (Genesis 1:27-28). The original vocation of mankind was to rule over the works of His hands (Psalms 8:5). Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong.
The complication is that humans, created in the image of God and called to be God’s royal stewards, are disobedient and misuse the power that God has given them. Mankind’s disobedience towards the Creator “blossoms into a pattern of violence and fractures relationships among people” (Middleton, p.63; Genesis 4-11). As evident in the Bible, disobedience distances us from God. It interferes with our relationship with God. It alienates us from our original purpose.
The Mission of God and The Mission of People
The initial sin of Adam and Eve caused the purpose of earthly life to get off track. “We have lost the plot not only in the existential sense of having lost our way, thus departing from God’s original purposes, but also in the conceptual sense that we often do not understand the inner logic of the biblical story” (Middleton, 2014). After the fall of mankind, God refuses to give up on mankind. Rather, God’s mission changes. As we gather from the book of Genesis, the original sin of Adam and Eve results in mankind being banished from the Garden of Eden and the ground being cursed (Genesis 3). Still, God’s love for mankind does not change. As Reeves explains, mankind is still created in the image of God. So, God sets out on his mission. God’s mission is to restore creation back to that which was originally intended. Throughout the Bible, we see illustrations of the redemptive acts taken by God, to restore the earthly order that was originally intended.
Greater so, we are invited to participate in God’s mission. “The priestly vocation of God’s redeemed people is to mediate blessings to the world by proclaiming the story of God’s redemptive acts, a story of which they have themselves become a part” (Middleton, p. 70). We are called to be a witness to His good works. By us living a life that mimics that of Christ’s, others can see the goodness of God in us, through our actions, and are drawn to Him.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith” (Romans 12:6). My mission in life is to fulfill the purposes that God has for me. We all are invited to participated in God’s mission, and through Christ, draw others to Him. As in Romans 12:6, we are each given unique gifts. I believe that my unique gift is teaching. And, as a teacher, I must teach in accordance with my faith.
I am currently attending LeTourneau University to pursue my calling by obtaining a degree in the field of education. My professional mission is to make a difference in the lives of children [and adults] by means of education, leading by example, love, and compassion.
Biblical teachings about creation help me to understand how my profession can aid in God’s mission. “Elder Perry quoted President David O. McKay who said, in a 1916 October general conference, ‘No greater responsibility can rest upon any man, than to be a teacher of God’s children’” (Stahle, 2010). As perceived in the Bible, mankind has strayed away from our original purpose. Our continuous disobedience has distanced us from God. However, as we dive into the biblical narrative, we find that God has not given up on us. He has not turned His back on that which He created good. Rather, He is in the process of redeeming creation. Ultimately, God sends his son, Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind.
Jeannette Swindle states: “Apart from Christ, we are nothing. We live in a hurting world and the harvest is great, but the workers are few. God is looking for instruments to use in every field. Your career will be so much more rewarding if you are an instrument in the hands of the Master in whatever career you are in from accountant to missionary” (n.d.).
As an instrument of God, my ultimate mission is to fulfill my calling in life.
Did you know that “teachers have more direct access to young people than almost anyone else in their lives (except for their parents)? An elementary school teacher spends an average of 25-30 hours with their students each week” (Meek, 2017). That said, teachers play a major part in the lives of their students.
I believe that teaching is a sacred calling from God. As we observe in the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – Jesus’ ministry consisted of teaching. “Of the 90 times that Jesus was addressed directly in the gospels, 60 times he was called Teacher” (Pritchard, n.d.).
My Philosophy of Education
As a requirement of a previous class, I developed my philosophy of education. While it is too wordy to include in this paper, I would like to briefly discuss one statement from my philosophy of education. A key statement in my philosophy is: “I strive to provide my students with key information that will later be integrated into their adult lives” (Brown, 2018). It is my responsibility to provide my students with a positive learning environment that embraces and welcomes everyone. My job is to teach my students in a way that they can learn while showing them love and compassion. The things that I instill in my students will be carried into their adult lives.
Aligning my Profession to my Vocation, as it Relates to my Students
“Great teachers make a great difference; poor teachers hurt a child’s life chances” (Bennett, 2012). Teachers prepare their students for the future and teach students the necessary standards to be successful in life. But it is important to know that a teacher is much more than an educator. Teachers act as counselors, disciplinarians, and even friends. I believe that teachers have enough influence on their students to change their lives.
Teachers are role models to their students. You may notice that, students tend to imitate their teachers. As a teacher, it is my mission to model the life of Christ. As expressed in Matthew 5:16, “in the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” This is quite important in the field of education. I like to think of young children as being in sort of a “molding stage.” The persons that they will become in the future are still being shaped by the conditions that surround them in life, a process referred to as nurturing. The characteristics that the teacher models have the potential to impact a child’s behavior. The impact that the teacher has can have either a positive or a negative impact on the lives of children, depending on the beliefs, actions, and characteristics of the educator. For example, a teacher who embraces diversity is likely to yield a classroom of students who embraces diversity. On the other hand, a teacher who personally struggle with diversity, will lead students to believe that it is okay to disassociate with those who are not like you. As a disciple of Christ, it is my call to set the stage for a positive impact on the lives of my students. That is, I strive for my work to be beneficial and not detrimental.
Psalm 119:66 reads, “teach me good judgement and knowledge for I have believed thy commandments.” As a Christian teacher and disciple of Christ, I aspire to teach my students good judgement as well as provided them with the knowledge needed to be successful in life.
Aligning my Profession to my Vocation, as it Relates to the Parent
Not only do teachers have the potential to impact their students, they also have the potential to impact the parents of their students. Parents, like students, pay attention to all that teachers do. Both, “teachers and parents provide a vital support system to help students flourish. Both groups are important. When parents and teachers communicate and work together effectively, it can significantly impact each student’s long-term success” (The Importance of Positive Parent-Teacher Relationships, n.d.). Therefore, I believe that it is important to form positive parent-teacher relationships. How better to do this than through imitating Christ? As a teacher, I will maintain an open line of communication, between myself and the parents.
As Christ has provided mankind with an open invitation into the kingdom, I will provide parents with an open invitation to my classroom. All parents will be invited to be a part of my classroom and participate in their child’s learning. Just as Christ has invited us to participate in the mission of God.
Aligning my Profession to my Vocation, as it Relates to my Co-Workers
In a perfect world, all our co-workers would share our beliefs in the triune God. We do not live in a perfect world. Kent Israel states,
“In the business world there are so many people that do not have a faith in Christ, this means that YOU are Christ to them. Many times, they have built barriers between themselves and the church, so they are not likely to wander into a church. If you are competent in your chosen field, ethical in your dealings with everyone, and appear to be living differently than everyone else, then you will have the opportunity to share your faith in words with them. If you fail to do the first three, your words will be empty. The other advice I would give is that people are watching you more than you think. You are Christ to them, so live that way” (2007).
It is inevitable that there will be times that I have encounters with co-workers. I believe that most of these encounters will be positive. Although, some may potentially challenge my beliefs. It is important that I do not conform to any secular characteristics that may be around me. Rather than conform to the world, I must be transformed by the renewal of my mind (Romans 12:2). I must not dim my light. Rather, I must remain true to who I am so that others may see Christ in me.
Jaimie Gieser, in my opinion, perfectly states: “Faith isn’t an assignment; it’s a lifestyle of depending on Jesus for everything; including Him, consulting Him and trusting in Him for everything, whether big or small. We need His direction every day. I used to think that I needed to work at a Church to really be in the ministry and share my faith. Now I realize that living by faith each day, wherever God places me, is where I need to be.” (2010). My mission in life, is God’s mission. God created me with a purpose. As His steward, I have been entrusted to fulfill the purposes that He has set for me. Therefore, I will continue to allow God to guide my footsteps. In allowing the Lord to lead me, my profession conforms or aligns to my vocation. In maintaining my relationship with God, and being true to who I am, my faith will be integrated with my work and my mission will align to the mission of God.
“For Christians, work life is to be woven into our vocation, to be more than a job or career. Our occupations are to be an integral part of our Father’s creative and sanctifying work” (Becker, 2017). My life’s mission should align with the mission of God. It is my prayer that I fulfill the purposes that have been set for me, so that I might glorify my Father in heaven.