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  • Writer's pictureHelena Smith

Do what you are called to do

There’s one thing that I know for sure – teachers can work very hard. Some teachers can complain just as hard, including me. It’s true that in addition to teaching, educators have 1001 other things to do. We then often use our last bit of energy to lament our fate. The last term kicks off with a bang. As I’m writing, the busy fourth term is in full swing. During class time, a child wants to come and tell me a story, to which I respond relatively abruptly: “Not now laddie!” That evening I feel very guilty and wonder if the child didn’t perhaps want to tell me something important.


It’s true that us teachers have many little routine administrative tasks that are time consuming. If you then remind yourself that God called you to make a difference in children’s lives, you feel guilty precisely because you’re neglecting your most important task. I surely don’t need to tell you how badly it’s going with our children nowadays. Many children need help and counselling from school psychologists and counsellors. Some merely seek a willing ear and loving attention from a teacher. When I came across the following verse recently, it enthralled me:


Lamentations 2:19 Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at every street corner – NIV


In 1994, photojournalist Kevin Carter won the Pulitzer Prize for his gripping photo of the famine in Sudan. In the photo, there’s an emaciated little child who is dying of hunger. In the background, a vulture hesitatingly hovers, ready to strike. What’s heartbreaking is that when someone asked Kevin Carter what had happened to the little child, he said he didn’t know. He only took the photos. Do you and I also sometimes just take pictures of children who are struggling and then walk away?


As teachers we cannot solve children’s problems, but we can refer them for help. We can offer a loving, listening ear. We can also encourage and help to dry tears. Many teachers say that they don’t get a chance to do this. However, this is our calling and so we need to make time. What’s so unbelievable about this involvement with children is that it gives you much more fulfilment than setting a brilliant paper.


So colleagues, let’s stop complaining about all the admin. Complete it briskly and quickly – as teachers we can indeed do it. Let’s put the cameras down, make time again for the children and that for which we are called.

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