I heard someone speaking this morning about the role of an inspirational teacher in their lives. This teacher had lit a spark of interest in poetry and music that had turned into a flame of creativity.
There are four teachers that stand out for me in this regard.
The first teacher taught me religious education. He was a Christian and therefore taught the subject as someone who had experienced the reality of Christianity from the inside. It was not merely a subject to him; it was his life.
I have spent the best part of my life handling Scripture texts and seeking to communicate their message to others. The spark for that creative flame was lit in those RE classes.
The second teacher was my maths teacher. I must be honest that although I am good at mental arithmetic, the whole notion of modern maths passed me by. It simply did not add up!
This teacher was also a Christian, who with my RE teacher led a Christian Union at the school. The CU met each week and did some amazing weekends away. My maths teacher did not manage to spark an interest in maths, but his faith did point me to Jesus. Later that teacher served me as one of my elders at my home church when I became its first pastor.
He keeps in touch and prays for me regularly.
The third teacher was my English teacher. He got me interested in reading. It all began with The Pearl by John Steinbeck, which led to Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This was the spark that has led to me reading thousands of books since then.
Catching the spark of reading opens a world of creativity and imagination that leads to unlimited worlds.
The fourth teacher was my form teacher in my last year at senior school.
I was unfocused during that year and spent most of it drifting somewhat aimlessly. My form teacher kept me in the game. It sounds like a cliché, but he believed in me and encouraged me in my life and studies.
During the first Christmas break after leaving school I took a job as a temporary postman. This teacher’s house was on my round. One day I had to knock on the door to deliver a parcel. The teacher remembered my name, took an interest in what I was doing and encouraged me to keep at it.
It has been said that we might not always remember what a preacher has said but we do remember how they made us feel.
I learnt something of that carrying my heavy postbag on that cold dark December morning. Kindness and encouraging words can put a spring into our steps and make our load seem lighter.
Preachers: think about the power of your words and actions. Words can open doors of life, but they can also be like a door slamming in our face!
“The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” (Isaiah 50:4)