The end of August means the beginning of school, a time of year I greeted with equal measures of excitement and dread as a teacher. So my original idea for this post was to shed some light on what teachers think and feel when a new school year rolls around. However, the Holy Spirit had something else in mind because when I sat down to write, the special needs family camp where I've served for a long weekend during the past three summers kept intruding on my thoughts.
I was proud enough to burst my buttons when several family members who previously attended as recipients of camp services return as volunteers. This development should be the ultimate goal of every special needs ministry—a shift from ministering to those with disabilities to equipping them for ministry so all eventually minister with one another. As thoughts of camp and thoughts of the new school year cozied up in my mind, a new idea formed.
What if parents who love Jesus would move from simply expecting services from educators to ministering with the educators serving their children?
Please don't misread my musings. I am not suggesting that parents quit advocating for their children or quit insisting on proper implementation of IEPs and 504 plans. You are your child's voice at school, and you need to speak up.
What I am suggesting is a shift in thinking. Rather than regarding educators only as professionals who are paid to serve our children, parents can also view them as fellow human beings God has placed in our lives and our children's lives so His purposes are completed through us. With such a shift in thinking, we are empowered to minister to them in the spirit of Christ who calls us to love those He brings into our lives.
When we love educators with the love Jesus shows us, God can do amazing things. Ministering to and loving those who work with our children at school is easier than you might think. It's as simple as...
- Going through a child's backpack for notes from the teacher and responding to them in a timely manner.
- Sitting down with your child to look at the work she brings home.
- Starting a difficult phone call to the teacher with a positive instead of a negative.
- Getting your child to school on time and picking him up promptly at the end of the day.
- Sending a thank you note when your child's teacher goes above and beyond the call of duty.
- Addressing what must be done to meet your child's needs instead of attacking the person in charge.
- Praying daily for those who work with your child.
People will notice when you choose to minister to them with the relentless kindness and compassion of Christ. Not every educator will respond positively. But if you minister tothem long enough while also advocating firmly for implementation of your child's IEP, you may observe a slow and sure shift to ministering with them. When that shift occurs, you and the people who work with your child at school will become partners for the good of your child. And also for the good of their souls as the love of Christ in and through you draws them to the Savior and into His ministry.