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Teachers as Examples In Conduct

Miss Kerr was my fifth grade teacher. She taught my class about the dangers of smoking cigarettes. One day, when I was near her desk, I saw in her open purse a package of Rothmans. I felt devastated by my discovery of cancer-sticks in her purse.

As a pastor/teacher, Timothy was told in 1 Timothy 4:12, the verse on which we are basing this series, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation.” Conversation here means “way of life, behavior, lifestyle, and conduct.”?

In secular schools of our day, the question of a teacher’s lifestyle and behavior is seen as irrelevant or inappropriate. But how a teacher lives outside of class is very important. A teacher teaches not only by what he says, but also by what he is.

Years ago before such widespread tolerance of sin and wickedness, the connection between the teacher’s character and conduct and his suitability to teach was commonly accepted. For example, in a list of rules for  teachers posted by a New York City principal in 1872, we find the following admonitions:
“Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly. After ten hours in school, the teachers should spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barbershop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intentions, integrity, and honesty.”

Let’s consider a few areas in which a teacher should show exemplary behavior.

Church Services

In many Christian schools, pupils observe their teacher at some church services. As a teacher, do you portray the reverence and interest you want them to show during your worship period at school? Do you listen with alert eyes, suitable posture, and attentive ears? Are you free from habits in church that you find unacceptable in your classroom—whispering and laughing, gum chewing, and discourtesies? Are you prompt? Do you show yourself friendly to a variety of people after the service—helping each to feel accepted and edified?


Your pupils probably have opportunity sometimes to listen to and discover your music tastes. Are they clearly Christian and acceptable to your parental and church authorities?


Do your clothes reflect an affinity for the world and its fashions, or adherence to Biblical and church guidelines? The Bible teaches modesty, simplicity, and nonconformity in dress—does your wardrobe demonstrate these principles? Are designer clothes and all the “right labels” designed by God or by another source? What kind of answer to this question does your apparel give your students?

Home Life

You want your pupils to respect your authority. Do you respect the authorities to whom you are accountable? Most teachers in Christian schools are relatively young. If you are a young person, do you respond positively to parental instruction? Do you honor your parents? Do you communicate with them frequently and openly?

Just before giving instruction to spouses, children, and parents, Paul teaches important precepts that form a foundation for good homes. Colossians 3:12-15 says, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

In your classroom, you want your children to show these qualities of kindness, humility, self-control, patience, forgiveness, love, peaceableness, and gratitude. What do they see in your life in the home and in the community?


Your pupils likely observe your driving. Sometimes they may travel with you on an educational trip. Do they see you tailgating, speeding, or weaving from lane to lane? Check yourself if a police car following you alters your driving.

Be an example of true Christianity to your pupils. Remember, they probably want to be like you. Your influence by virtue of your character is summed up in a little poem called “Mark Hopkins.”

Mark Hopkins sat on one end of a log
And a farmer boy sat on the other.
Mark Hopkins came as a pedagogue
And taught as an elder brother.
I care not what Mark Hopkins taught,
If his Greek was small and his Latin naught,
For the farmer boy said, said he,
All through leisure time and quiz,
“The kind of man I expect to be
Is the kind of man Mark Hopkins is.”

Christ modeled perfectly what He taught. That is what made His teaching so powerful. As a Christian teacher, your goal is to lead pupils to follow Christ. Live so that as pupils get to know you better, they will know and serve and follow Jesus better.   

—Howard Bean

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