Teachers are many things: mentors, role models, subject matter experts, and sometimes a much-needed listening ear. They are also similar in many ways to a captain of a ship. Entering any grade level is for students like going on a journey, with teachers being the tour guides. The vessel, or classroom, has been cleaned since the last excursion and gleams in the light. At the beginning of a new school year, smiling students get on board, eager to learn advanced concepts. Teachers will navigate the route as students’ eyes and minds are opened to new learning experiences and biblical concepts along the way.

It’s not always smooth sailing along the expedition, of course. Some days, the wind will pick up, creating stormy seas. The boat will lose its mooring and list from side to side as the wind presses in. After a long, difficult day, the captain, while peering through a spyglass, won’t be able to see the destination through gray, imposing clouds.

Despite the best laid plans, the journey will sometime get off course. Teachers inevitably will need to set their charts and plans aside, find stable footing, and rely on their training and compass. The compass is Jesus Christ.

Matthew 14 records one of the best-known stories about Jesus, how He fed the 5,000 who had gathered on a hillside to hear Him speak. Afterward, Jesus sent His disciples, who had witnessed this miracle firsthand, ahead. They left on their fishing boat to cross the Sea of Galilee while Jesus prayed alone.

The next morning, the disciples were still on the boat, having encountered strong winds and stormy seas. Jesus walked to them across the water. At first, they thought He was a ghost, but when they realized it was Jesus, Peter excitedly jumped out of the boat and went to Him after being told to “Come.” We all know what happened next: Peter, scared by the wind and the waves, looked away from Jesus and started sinking. He cried out for help, and Jesus took his hand. The two got into the boat and the sea instantly became calm.

Despite our most detailed preparations, it’s rare for things to “go according to plan” in a 50-minute class period, much less over the course of a school year. But good teachers and administrators prepare for this inevitability, and how they react to the storms during the school year makes all the difference. Being grounded in Christ, always looking to Him, and keeping His love as the centerpiece helps them weather the wind and the waves.

As the school year progresses, the “clean and shine” that occurred over the break will wear off. New school clothes will get stained and torn, and shiny shoes will get scuffed. But that’s okay. It means that life is happening. Life on earth is not perfect, and everything that is once squeaky clean gets dirty. Life is messy.

But we manage the mess, and experience calm in the storm, by keeping our eyes focused on Jesus. Doing so will help us maintain a positive attitude, see the best in people and situations, raise our sails again, get back on course, and cruise onward and forward to the destination.

My prayer for all of you, whether you’re venturing forth into the 2023-2024 school year or in the middle of the current one, is that you’ll experience mostly calm seas. But when the storm clouds appear and the wind starts blowing, may you stand tall as the captain, exuding strength, and wisdom, because as you steer the ship’s wheel, Jesus is standing next to you with His hand on yours.


About the Author

Dr. Larry Taylor

Dr. Larry Taylor is the president of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Prior to assuming leadership at ACSI, Dr. Taylor served for 20 years as the Head of School at Prestonwood Christian Academy (PCA) in Plano, Texas. Dr. Taylor previously served as President of the Texas Private Schools Association (TPSA) Board of Directors. Dr. Taylor also was a  high school principal and assistant headmaster for 12 years at The First Academy in Orlando, Florida and has held teaching positions within the public school system. Taylor co-launched a national training institute for schools, “Becoming a Kingdom School Institute” and founded the Student Leadership Institute (SLI) program. He developed a training program for parents called “Becoming a Kingdom Family.” Dr. Taylor published the book titled Running with The Horses, which helps parents raise children to be servant-leaders for Christ and helps to build a family plan. 

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are you most looking forward to this school year?
  2. What practical steps will you take to help you “stay the course” this year?

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