It's easy to see where there might be disagreements in schools. There are strikes looming, perennial questions about school policies and differing opinions about teaching strategies. and they rarely die down for long!
What is right to do as Christians when we don't agree with the way things are being done by those around or above us. Or when what we asked to do seems wrong?
We will all have very good reasons for going into teaching but the verses we'll look at today might challenge our intentions. The guidelines at the end will hopefully help us in the future when more disagreements and decisions come.
1. When does it become hard to follow God and also do what you're told by lecturers or school leaders?
2. Write or print out the following verses, each on a separate piece of A4 paper:
'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.' Colossians 3:23-24
'Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.' 1 Corinthians 15:58
'Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.' Ephesians 6:5-8
Split into groups and give a verse to each group. Do the first task, writing your thoughts down on the verse sheet you have.
3. Look up the passage and write down what Paul is talking about in the paragraphs around your verse(s).
Pass your verse to the next group and answer the next question for a different verse.
4. Paul gives instructions and reasons for the instructions in each verse. What does this show that we might we get wrong in either our actions or our intentions?
Pass your verse to the next group and answer the next question for the final verse.
5. In what ways does working for the Lord change how we work in general?
Share your thoughts and reflections once every group has finished.
6. Spend a moment quietly then share in twos or threes and pray for each other. Perhaps ask, 'what is sticking out to you from these verses that you see change or remember?'
Logos Scotland produced some guidelines for thinking about strike action a few years ago but it applies more generally for any decision we make about how we work. Below is a summary of the points that you can find in this article.
- Freedom - We are free to think through and work out what is best for everyone inolved. We want everyone to be valued and for work to be high quality and should think about that and work towards it.
- Motivation - It is important to think carefully about the reasons that a union might be suggesting strike action or why you would join in in pushing for change.
- Impact - What will the impact of your actions be? Even if the overall aim is a good one, will you bring damage or difficulty along the way that should be avoiced?
- Options - God so often makes things happen that we didn't think were possible. We often think that one line of action is our only option. Remember to think about all the possiblities and ways ahead, and to pray for wisdom.
- Responsibilities - Our decisions at work affect our relationships and the effects have to be considered for those around us.
- Manipulation - Sometimes others will suggest a course of action for different agendas. Are both the aim and the action justified?
- Forgiveness and Grace - We have been given incredible grace by God. What does it look like to extend that same grace and forgiveness to others? Some workplace problems require action, but how do we go about it distinctively, like Jesus and with grace?
- Reconciliation - Even when we were in the depths of our sin, God was working for reconciliation with us. How can we seek the same for those we disagree with?
7. Education is a surprisingly political sector! we are often called on to share our opinions in the staff room and our work will frequently find its way into the media. Some of the points about might come naturally to you, others less so. Which do you want to think about more for next time you have a tricky situation? Pray about this all together.