• Randy Karlberg
Classroom full of desks

Just in case you have been locked up in your home for the last 5 months, school is on the cusp of beginning. There are many different forms that school takes, especially this year. Some schools are doing distance learning. Some schools are meeting in person with safety precautions in place due to COVID. And still other students are doing a homeschool version, some for the first time in their lives. But what each of these schools has, albeit to differing degrees, are teachers. Teachers have an even more arduous job this school year.

One of the outcomes of the closing of schools last spring with each school moving to an online format was parents, and people in general, found a new appreciation for a teacher’s job. They realized that it is difficult to engage young people and challenge them to grow in their learning. The job of a teacher really needs to be a “calling.” Because if you are not called to teach, it will quickly become a frustrating experience which often results in going through the motions. I think most of us have had a teacher who was just doing the minimal amount required. Students quickly figure out whether a teacher is half-engaged or striving to help them grow. This “engaged” spectrum is what causes certain teachers to stand out in our lives.

The teacher who was most directly involved in me pursuing a career in education was Einer Anderson. Einer was a beloved teacher at my high school of 2,000 students. He taught P.E., Health, and Driver’s Ed. He was a coach of many sports. But the reason that he was the most admired teacher on campus was because every student knew that Einer loved them. He made it a priority to know each student’s name, and he called them by their first name. He listened to them and would ask them about things going on in their lives. He was always available to talk with students or faculty whether it was regular chit-chat or the deeper things of life. He knew how to love people!

The main reason Einer knew how to love people was because he knew he was loved and forgiven by his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He showed Christ’s love to the severely depressed teen as well as the school renowned athlete. He knew the name of each loner that slinked around the hallways. Jesus Christ showed up daily on our campus through the life of a veteran teacher named Einer! He had not missed a day of school in 19 straight school years. So when he stopped coming to school in October of my senior year it sent shockwaves through the campus. When it was revealed that he was dying of cancer and would not be returning to school, the impact was immense. I and another friend of mine had the distinct pleasure of speaking at his memorial service in our high school gym. Both sides of the bleachers were packed as well as chairs covering the court. We were asked to share what made Einer the man he was. It was such an honor to speak of my friend and mentor in that moment. It was even more of an honor to share the reason the gym was packed. We clearly shared that Einer’s love for Jesus Christ motivated him to love people.

Einer took very seriously the charge from James 3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” There is greater accountability for those who hold a level of influence and example over others, especially children. The Bible takes very seriously the role of leadership and holding leaders accountable. A healthy fear of God will help keep teachers and leaders humble and cautious as they exercise their God-given talents. It is very dangerous to use one’s talents without humbly submitting to God. But when someone does use their talents to become all that God intends them to be, the result is a beautiful portrayal that is evident to both believers and non-believers. This was the life lived by Einer. I thank the Lord for the privilege of being called one of his students. And as I begin each school year I am reminded of one of the main reasons I pursued the discipline of education. A man named Einer!

Think about the teacher who impacted you the most! Send them a note, or at least thank the Lord for the privilege of them being in your life! What are some tangible ways that you can show your love for Christ by loving others? Take the time to invest in people. This is how Jesus lived His life, and what He calls us to do.