February 15, 2015
Online Journal - Building the Future -- A Student at a Time
R. Lee Richards, Principal, West Coast Adventist Christian School, Abbotsford, BC

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what GOD is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.               Micah 6:8 – The Message

For 30 years I have been involved in educating students across Canada.  It has had its challenges, and when those times arise, I think back to a teacher’s convention I attended early on in my career.  I don’t remember many of the details, like exactly where it was, or who the main speaker for the weekend had been; but what I do remember was the message he passed on to us.

His theme for the weekend was centered around the job that we were called to do as teachers.  Being new to the profession, I was touched by what he shared, as he called us to focus on the fact that we were architects.  His analogy was that we are involved in the business of building, and that each and every day, we are working with the children God has sent to us, and in them we are building the temples and cathedrals of the future.

He challenged us, to do our best, in spite of the fact that we will never see the completion of the work, as each of those children would be only part of our life for a brief moment in time, and then they would be gone.  He told us not to be discouraged, but to focus on helping them to develop their personal relationship with Jesus, and help them to develop the skills they would need to be successful wherever God would lead them.

Although I know I will never see the completed individual my students may become, it is the glimpses that I am able to see along the way which allow me to feel satisfaction in what God has called me to do.  It is always a thrill to see how these children have grown up, and how they are contributing to the communities they are living in.  I have had the opportunity to be the principal at a school where one of my very first elementary students is now a teacher.  The old joke says that we should treat our students well, because one day they be the ones signing your pay cheque.  This has come true for me, as that is what another one of my former students does now each month.  I am a also member of a church choir which is directed by former student.  Another student recently received The Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.  These are just a few of the glimpses I have had as I have crossed paths again with children who have sat in my classroom, some of them decades ago now.

They have achieved different things and each now fulfill different roles, but what gives comfort and brings joy to my heart is to see that they have grown into successful individuals who are able to be contributors to their communities and servants for our God.  I am not going to be able to see where God eventually will lead them, but, somewhat like Moses, I am happy when God allows me to catch a glimpse of their journey to give me the assurance of the future.

I hope that you too have these experiences; that you too can know that the talents God has given you have been used to build the future.