Big Lessons from the First Day of School

Today is the first day of school for a lot of people. As a youth minister, I’m very aware of this because my students were (generally) bummed about it yesterday at church. As a grad student, I’m also very aware of it because today I have taken the plunge and started the process of learning Hebrew. And if I wasn’t already aware that today was Back to School Day, I would’ve figured it out quickly once I checked Facebook this morning, as my news feed was blowing up with everyone’s pictures of their kids dressed up and ready for the First Day of School.

So for a lot of folks, today is a big day, and it got me thinking about some important lessons that the First Day of School reminds us of:

(1) We need to be prayerful on behalf of our students. As a youth minister this is something that I’m very aware of, but it is hard to overemphasize how difficult it is to be a young person today and to cling to Christian values, and how much our young people need our prayers and support. 

I am not trying to make a political statement or start a debate on the issue of prayer in schools or anything like that; I am simply making the observation that our society is an increasingly dark place, and this darkness is absolutely manifested in our schools. Teens (and even those who aren’t yet teens) are exposed to all sorts of things that are contrary to a Christian worldview, and resisting those things can be difficult.

But there’s good news as well: a shining light makes the biggest difference in a dark place! Pray not only that our students resist the darkness, but that they shine their lights and point others to Jesus Christ.

(2) We should be thankful for educators. On the whole, I think teachers tend to get a bad rap. Certainly some teachers are not as good, or as caring, or as dedicated as they could be, but on the whole, teachers are people who care about young people and want to do what they can to help them (come to think of it, that entire last sentence could probably be applied to youth ministers as well!).

And really, they have pretty tough jobs: they have to do a lot of work to stay current in their field, they have to deal with children with significant behavior problems (and the parents who produced them!), they get to work long hours before and after school grading papers, working on lesson plans, and going to school activities, and often they spend significant portions of their (not always great) salaries to buy additional resources for their classrooms and students.

Be thankful for educators! Encourage them, tell them you appreciate their efforts, and try to be cooperative when they need something from you (helping your child with homework, getting a paper signed, coming to a parent/teacher conference, etc.).

(3) We should realize how quickly our lives pass by. My first day of Kindergarten was 25 years ago, a quarter of a century. But seriously, I can remember it like it was just yesterday! A repeated theme I saw on Facebook today was parents who couldn’t quite believe that their kids had gotten so old so fast!

I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but it really is amazing how quickly time flies. The Bible says that our life is like a mist, something that is here for a short time and then vanishes. And as I see pictures on my news feed of college students who I think should still be in high school, high school students who should still be in grade school, and kindergarteners who should still be in diapers, it really hits home.

Our lives will be gone before we know it; we must make the most of the time we have!

(4) We need to never stop being students. I’m not talking about formal education here, but rather that we need to always have the attitude of being learners—we should never think of ourselves as knowing all there is to know on a given subject and always be willing to learn more. 

This is one of my favorite things about the preaching minister that I work with. He is in his 50s and has decades of experience in ministry, but he is always looking to learn new things so he can stay current. He reads constantly, and is always interested in examining things that I come across in my studies. What a great example that is!

I know so much more about life, ministry, and theology than I did two, five, and ten years ago. But I am by no means I finished product, and I hope and expect to know a lot more in two, five, and ten years down the road than I do now.

One of these days, if the Lord wills, I will finish my grad school education. But that won’t be mark the end of my learning, as I plan to continue doing that until the end of my life.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Did you think of an important Back to School Lesson that I left out?


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