Christian TEFL trustee Sophie Gower is a former EFL teacher, and worked at a university in the former Soviet Union with IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students). Here she shares a bible passage from Colossians, with her thoughts on how we can all be true to our faith and calling, even on moody Mondays…
You know that feeling – often it seems to happen on Monday mornings. When the rain is beating down, or the snow is swirling (again), your car won’t start and you don’t feel full of the joys that you know you should, as you trudge off to teach your English class. It is sometimes easy to begrudge work for getting in the way of our leisure or ‘spiritual’ time. Perhaps we like our jobs but feel guilty that we are not more obviously Christian at work; that our witness is somehow lacking. I have often wondered how we can reconcile all this so we can make our Christian walk a whole-life thing so that we can be effective in our jobs and true to our faith.
As usual, it is best to start with the bible and I have found it helpful to have the following verse in mind.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Let me explain how I see this in 3 points…
1) A distinctive approach: ‘Whatever’ includes every aspect of our work, whether it’s seen (by students or in an official lesson observation) or unseen (prep, writing reports, marking work) or whether it’s tedious (photocopying!) or exciting (taking students on a trip?, teaching a CAE exam class?!). Sincerity, generosity and faithfulness are some ways we can work ‘with all our hearts’, and praying for our students and colleagues will be the most significant thing a Christian TEFL teacher could ever do.
2) A distinctive audience: We show respect and obedience to ‘earthly masters’ (language school owners, heads of department etc.) out of our reverence to God (vs. 22). We are also free from putting great store by getting approval from them, because the Lord is the one we’re ultimately answerable to. The eternal stamp of approval He’s given us is ‘saved, loved, adopted’ in Jesus. And ‘it is the Lord Christ’ we are now free to serve.
3) A distinctive aspiration: Earning an enormous salary isn’t generally at the top of any TEFL teacher’s agenda, but whether we have money in our sights, or the status of being well-travelled, or the simple but considerable satisfaction of moving a student from Pre-Int to Up-Int, the ultimate endpoint for us is the inheritance ahead in heaven. This is where life will be as it should be, in a world as it should be, with God there among His people.
So if today is a day when you feel in need of some encouragement, think of the 3 distinctive A’s. I hope it will help you to keep your focus on who and what is most important.
When not assisting Christian TEFL with wise advice and counsel, Sophie is Associate Women’s Minister at St Leonard’s Church, (https://www.stleonards.church/) Exeter.