Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m always so grateful for this wonderful time of year when we get to celebrate the birth of the most remarkable Man who ever lived: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Each of us has different ways of celebrating the birth of the Christ child, but I believe it’s safe to say that most of our traditions and practices revolve around giving and receiving gifts. These gifts come in many forms. Some come in the shape of wrapped presents, some in acts of kindness, and others in expressions of appreciation and love. Jesus, being our perfect Exemplar, has given us the ultimate gift by offering Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. His gift offers us heavenly peace and everlasting joy.
Each Christmas season I find myself asking this question: “What can I offer as a gift for Christ?” The answer to this question is different for everyone. Some have money to buy gifts while others have talents to share. Each of us has something to offer. If we were to ask Jesus what gift He would like to receive, I would expect Him to express His desire that we serve one another. And by doing so we are serving Him. King Benjamin taught that “when [we] are in the service of [our] fellow beings, [we] are only in the service of [our] God” (Mosiah 2:17).
Teachers have a unique opportunity to bless and serve Heavenly Father’s children. I don’t believe it is a stretch at all to say we are serving our Father in Heaven and our Savior by blessing the lives of children through teaching. And just like the gifts we give are unique, so our teaching is different. We each have strengths and abilities that enable us to provide unique opportunities and experiences for our students. How confidently and sincerely are we offering our strengths and abilities to our students? How are we giving of ourselves to serve God and His children?
I recently watched a movie entitled “Front of the Class.” This inspiring film is about Jeff Cohen, an elementary school teacher in Georgia who has Tourette’s syndrome. While many doubted his ability to teach effectively, he proved that his condition was not a handicap but instead a gift that he could use to bless the lives of his students. His experiences with Tourette’s syndrome helped him teach his students to respect people who are different from them and that it’s okay to be different. This special gift he offered to his students, the gift of himself, drew them closer to him. He gained their trust and became a profound influence in their lives.
Each of us can have this same effect on our future students. What are your strengths and abilities? How can you offer yourself as a gift to your students? Heavenly Father has made you who you are for a reason, and I believe that He hopes each of us will let Him use us as instruments in His hands to bless His children and ultimately to bring them closer to Him. After all, isn’t that the core purpose of education – to gain knowledge and understanding and therefore to become more like God?
During this Christmas season, consider what gifts you can offer to your future students – and to Christ – that will bless their lives and help them grow. Plan ways to offer those things through your teaching. May we each learn to follow the example of the Master Teacher by allowing the Lord to use us for His work to the blessing of His children. Doing so will enable us to enjoy the spirit of Christmas not just during the Christmas season but every day of the year.