January 1, 2016
Online Journal - A Reflective Heart
Shad Lehmann, Superintendent, Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference, Saskatoon, SK

One of the most important practices that a teacher should do is self-reflection on their role as a professional teacher.  This can occur following just one lesson, each day and the entire year.  The practice of self-reflection allows a person to review what they have done in the past and thus make adjustments that will produce a stronger outcome.  When reflection is done, a teacher can review strengths and weaknesses, and then enhance their strengths and address their weaknesses through professional development.  However, as important as self-reflection is, I would like to focus on something else: a far higher calling in respect to reflection, and that is our reflection of Jesus Christ.
 
No less effective today will be the teaching of God's word when it finds as faithful a reflection in the teacher's life” (White, 1952).   How important it is that we as teachers reflect Jesus Christ?  I have always had a desire that our schools and teachers be highly spiritual, and I believe that spirituality is important above all else.  By being a teacher in the Seventh-day Adventist school system, we have accepted a high calling to educate God’s youth, not just academically, but also spiritually.  The impact that we have as educators on the spiritual lives of our students is eternal.  That impact is far reaching and at its greatest when we reflect Jesus.
 
So how do we reflect Jesus?  I can only speak from personal experience, so I have reflected on examples when I have seen teachers reflect Jesus in their classroom.  First, we must focus on the “fruits of the spirit,” “but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:22, 23 (Andrews Study Bible).  I believe that to reflect Christ we must first ask each day that the Holy Spirit give us His fruits.  Second, I believe that we need to ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s character can only be reflected in those who daily give their lives to Him.  Last, to reflect Jesus Christ, we must realize our shortcomings and surrender them at the cross. Students know many of our failures, and it is an example to them that we recognize them and give them to Jesus.
 
Why, is it important that we reflect Christ?  I am sure that you have many examples far better than mine.  Even in our sinful state, we must reflect Christ; our students watch everything that we do, and, in some cases, we may be the only reflection of Jesus that they have.  By reflecting Jesus, our students are able to learn from us. They will eventually be the next leaders in the church who must also reflect Christ.  As the following quote from Ellen G. White illustrates, Jesus desires his children to reflect him.  “The Bible enjoins courtesy, and it presents many illustrations of the unselfish spirit, the gentle grace, the winsome temper, that characterize true politeness. These are but reflections of the character of Christ. All the real tenderness and courtesy in the world, even among those who do not acknowledge His name, is from Him. And He desires these characteristics to be perfectly reflected in His children. It is His purpose that in us men shall behold His beauty” (White Education).
 
As I write this short article, I think about how I have reflected Jesus in the past, and I desire to be a clearer reflection in the future.  This is also my prayer for you.

Resources:
 
Andrews University. (2010). Andrews Study Bible :Light. Depth. Truth. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.
 
White, E. G. H. (1952). Education. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association.