Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6


Chapter 19—Character and Work of Teachers

The work done in our schools is not to be like that done in the colleges and seminaries of the world. In the grand work of education, instruction in the sciences is not to be of an inferior character, but that knowledge must be considered of first importance which will fit a people to stand in the great day of God's preparation. Our schools must be more like the schools of the prophets. They should be training schools, where the students may be brought under the discipline of Christ and learn of the Great Teacher. They should be family schools, where every student will receive special help from his teachers as the members of the family should receive help in the home. Tenderness, sympathy, unity, and love are to be cherished. There should be unselfish, devoted, faithful teachers, teachers who are constrained by the love of God and who, with hearts full of tenderness, will have a care for the health and happiness of the students. It should be their aim to advance the students in every essential branch of knowledge. 6T 152.1

Wise teachers should be chosen for our schools, those who will feel responsible to God to impress upon minds the necessity of knowing Christ as a personal Saviour. From the highest to the lowest grade they should show special care for the salvation of the students and through personal effort seek to lead their feet into straight paths. They should look with pity upon those who have been badly trained in childhood, and seek to remedy defects, which, if retained, will greatly mar the character. No one can do this work who has not first learned in the school of Christ how to teach. 6T 152.2

All who teach in our schools should have a close connection with God and a thorough understanding of His word, that they may be able to bring divine wisdom and knowledge into the work of educating the youth for usefulness in this life and for the future, immortal life. They should be men and women who not only have a knowledge of the truth, but who are doers of the word of God. “It is written” should be expressed in their words and by their lives. By their own practice they should teach simplicity and correct habits in everything. No man or woman should be connected with our schools as an educator who has not had an experience in obeying the word of the Lord. 6T 152.3

Principal and teachers need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The earnest prayer of contrite souls will be lodged by the throne, and God will answer these prayers in His own time if we cling to His arm by faith. Let self be merged in Christ, and Christ in God, and there will be such a display of His power as will melt and subdue hearts. Christ taught in a way altogether different from ordinary methods, and we are to be laborers together with Him. 6T 153.1

Teaching means much more than many suppose. It requires great skill to make the truth understood. For this reason every teacher should strive to have an increased knowledge of spiritual truth, but he cannot gain this knowledge while divorcing himself from the word of God. If he would have his powers and capabilities daily improved he must study; he must eat and digest the word, and work in Christ's lines. The soul that is nourished by the bread of life will have every faculty vitalized by the Spirit of God. This is the meat which endureth unto everlasting life. 6T 153.2

Teachers who will learn from the Great Teacher will realize the help of God as did Daniel and his fellows. They need to climb heavenward instead of remaining on the plain. Christian experience should be combined with all true education. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5. Teachers and students should study this representation and see if they are of that class who, through the abundant grace given, are obtaining the experience that every child of God must have before he can enter the higher grade. In all their instruction teachers should impart light from the throne of God; for education is a work the effect of which will be seen throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. 6T 153.3

Teachers should lead students to think, and clearly to understand the truth for themselves. It is not enough for the teacher to explain or for the student to believe; inquiry must be awakened, and the student must be drawn out to state the truth in his own language, thus making it evident that he sees its force and makes the application. By painstaking effort the vital truths should thus be impressed upon the mind. This may be a slow process; but it is of more value than rushing over important subjects without due consideration. God expects His institutions to excel those of the world; for they are His representatives. Men truly connected with God will show to the world that a more than human agent is standing at the helm. 6T 154.1

Our teachers need to be constant learners. The reformers need to be themselves reformed, not only in their methods of labor, but in their own hearts. They need to be transformed by the grace of God. When Nicodemus, a great teacher in Israel, came to Jesus, the Master laid before him the conditions of divine life, teaching him the very alphabet of conversion. Nicodemus asked: “How can these things be?” “Art thou a master of Israel,” Christ answered, “and knowest not these things?” This question might be addressed to many who are now holding positions as teachers, but who have neglected the preparation essential to qualify them for this work. If Christ's words were received into the soul there would be a much higher intelligence and a much deeper spiritual knowledge of what constitutes a disciple, a sincere follower of Christ, and an educator whom He can approve. 6T 154.2