I ran into a former student last night. He was in my 7th grade homeroom 12 years ago. Sharp kid: smart, hard-working, great sense of humor; he was the sort of student that makes teaching a joy. I was leaving the grocery store and he was on his way in...wearing his uniform.
He's now a 25-year-old, and serves as a police officer here in town.
He smiled as soon as he saw me: "Hi, Mr. Mulder!" with a wave.
I said my hello in return, and got into my van with my peanut butter and aluminum foil and potato chips and memories of this former student.
And this realization: he still calls me "Mr. Mulder."
I haven't been his teacher for more than a decade, but I'm still "Mr. Mulder" to him.
That was a bit of an eye-opening experience for me. I wonder what would happen sometime if I rolled through a stop sign, and he happened to pull me over? Clearly, he would have authority in that place, and I would surely get the ticket I deserved.
But this was a good reminder for me of the Office of the Teacher. Teachers have a high calling; we have a tremendous impact--for good or ill--on the lives of the students we encounter each year, each day, each class period. And for distinctively Christian teachers, this takes on an even deeper role, perhaps: are we being Christ to our students? Maybe this is why James admonishes the church: "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1)
Teachers, remember your Office!