[Note: This shepherdess discussion should be directed toward our present teacher need. Adventist young people should become conscious that Jesus' command to the apostle Peter, "Feed my lambs," is very urgent. Again more lucrative teaching positions outside our denominational work are attracting trained teachers while God's cause is languishing. The leader will want to slant this program toward local needs.--L. C. K.]
Christian education furnishes the material for the warp and woof of Adventism. It helps to supply future leaders for every department of our church work. Our colleges prepare young people for teaching as well as preaching. Both professions are recognized as evangelistic. The Christian teacher, however, has the advantage of teaching classes that are waiting for instruction; evangelistic workers must first build their audiences. The teacher who works in the sheltering environment of a Christian school has an enviable opportunity for serving in the cause. As compared with other workers who must first break down prejudice before they can preach or teach their message, he is decidedly advantaged. Happy the teacher who can work with willing youth, hungry to learn.
Christian Teachers Needed
Teachers in a Christian school should be genuine Christians, skilled in instilling into the pupils entrusted to their care the principles of true education. Married teachers will bring to their communities a practical demonstration of the Christian home; the unmarried may demonstrate other satisfactions provided by Christianity. These shepherdesses have flocks to lead into green pastures, and the lambs of the fold are their special care. Christian teaching is not merely a profession; the teacher must possess the shepherding gift. And someday the Great Shepherd will ask an account of how this gift was used. Let us keep these facts in mind as we evaluate the calling.
Well may Adventism refer to its army of Christian women teachers. They have given glorious service to the cause at home and abroad. Like the virtuous woman of the Bible, these women might boast of many other skills besides teaching—but they are in love with teaching! To them it is a most gratifying ministry. Having remained with their work a few decades, they are privileged to see the fruitage of their toils and sacrifices, in the lives of consecrated workers. Awards of silver and gold can never compare with these joys. Teaching women are the denomination's best character builders. Few would challenge this tribute.
Is There a Teacher Crisis?
Today teachers are in great demand, and the need is felt in our own denomination. Some who are qualified to fill important posts are considering what appear on the outside to be greener pastures. There is a restive spirit abroad in some areas, and the care of the lambs of God's flock may seem to have lost its urgency. Perhaps a few have had so much contact with teachers in secular education that they have become confused as to where their own duty lies. The power of the wage dollar in meeting the economic pressure of our times may have influenced them in their decision. But the church will continue to maintain Christian schools, for she must follow divine counsel. And recognizing the need to serve, consecrated teachers will respond. This shortage of instructors is not a new problem to the denomination, nor is it the only perplexity.
There never is a crisis with God. Human reasoning may present embarrassment to the cause, but God is not handicapped in His search for men and women of faith—men and women who have a burden for the children of the church. With the responsibility of training the teachers of tomorrow, our teachers of today need to be as true to duty as the needle is to the pole. When Moses made his choice between what Egypt could offer and what the church could give, he settled the matter on principle. And who would now question the wisdom of his course?
Problems for Group Discussion
Choose from the following problems those of special interest to your teaching shepherdesses. Substitute those needing local emphasis.
1. On what basis should a choice between teaching in a church school or in a public school be decided? What exceptions must at times be recognized?
2. Are there some material advantages to be gained by teaching in a denominational academy rather than in a public high school? What are these?
3. Should the lack of proper living quarters discourage our teachers from remaining in Christian education? How may this problem be remedied?
4. Should one who teaches children daily be asked to teach a Sabbath school class? What Sabbath activities provide a pleasant change for teachers?
5. Suggest ways in which the Week of Prayer may become a greater blessing to teachers.
6. What hobby and craft instruction would provide recreation for teachers? We recommend the following books as interesting and profitable reading for our teachers:
Through Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliot (Harper and Brothers, New York).
In the Gray Rain, Hazel Severson McCartney (Harper and Brothers, New York).
The Small Woman, Alan Burgess (E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York).
The Gentle House, Anna Perrott Rose (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston).
All the Women of the Bible, Edith Deen (Harper and Brothers, New York).
How to Live 365 Days a Year, John A. Schindler (Prentice-Hall, Inc., New York).
The Pastor's Wife, Carolyn P. Blackwood (The WestminSter Press, Philadelphia).
They Also Served, Ava C. Wall (Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C.).
Dig or Die Brother Hyde, William J. Hyde (Harper and Brothers, New York).