Love is the first fruit in this series. How can a Christian educator model this kind of fruit? A Christian educator who models the fruit of love is a person who seeks the welfare of all, causes no hard feelings, and looks for opportunities to do well for everyone. This person will create a classroom environment charged with the love of God, a place where students are loved no matter what they have done. No matter how bad they have fallen, they will be forgiven.
It is possible to love and accept a student as a creation of God and at the same time confront inappropriate behavior. For example, profanity is wrong and students who use it must be confronted. But, if a student who uses profanity gets the feeling that he is rejected, even when he is attempting to live above this, he will never be around long enough to be touched by God through the school. The use of profanity is a choice a student makes. When they choose to use profanity, they are also choosing to suffer the consequences of wrong choices. When consequences are ministered (not administrated) out of a spirit of love and compassion, the student will learn to make the right choices and to clean up his speech.
Students relate love to caring. When high school students were asked to identify the one characteristic about our school that sets it apart from all other schools they had attended, the overwhelming response was, “The teachers really care about their students.” The extent of a teacher's love for his students is directly related to the amount of help, concern, and friendship the teacher directs toward the students. Students sense that teachers love them when teachers talk openly with students, trust them, and are interested in their ideas.
Teachers who have established a caring relationship with students will have a much better opportunity to minister to their needs. In so doing, they will be able to help them change their attitudes and conduct.
One of the reasons Victory Christian School grew at a rate of 5 to 12 percent each year was a direct result of teachers learning how to minister out of a heart filled with love. Furthermore, schools that are prepared to deal with hurting students will see more of these kinds of students enrolling because God will send them to a school where love, acceptance, and forgiveness flow.
The fruit of love must be demonstrated (modeled). The apostle John exhorts believers to show their love, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). The greatest demonstration of love was at the cross where God sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sin (John 3:16).
Elaine and Randall, parents of Kelly, a second-grader, write,
The dramatic turnaround in Kelly has been not only in the uplifting of her spirit and self-esteem but also in her academics. A large portion of her grades at present have been A's, which we seldom saw in her previous situation before coming to this school. If you recall, my daughter came to Victory with a learning challenge. She has been healed from a mental challenge to having the mind of Christ. The real healing was a direct result of the love that your teachers have shown to our daughter, their willingness to show that love, and the Holy Spirit who resides in them and on this campus.
It is the Spirit of God working in your life who produces love that causes you to be moved with compassion as you look into the faces of your students. From those who are having academic challenges to those who are at the top of the class, from the willingly defiant pupil to the most compliant—your love must embrace them all. However, it must not stop at the classroom door; it must extend beyond your classroom walls to the cafeteria, to the ball field, to the fine arts program, and into the home of each student.
Take a few minutes during your planning for the week to ask the Holy Spirit to give you creative thoughts on how you might demonstrate acts of love. As these thoughts come into your spirit, take time to write them down in your lesson plans and then act on them during the week. Consider no less than one action in the morning classes and one in the afternoon. By the end of the week, you will have demonstrated ten specific acts of love. These actions will have a significant impact on the lives of your students throughout the year; they will make a difference!