I recently heard a news story about two teachers in Louisiana who have been charged with a crime that involved a student. These stories break my heart and there are many victims. First and foremost, of course, is the abused student. Second are the families of that particular school. Third on the list of victims is education system as a whole, which gets a bad name from these teachers.
The problem is even worse within a Lutheran school. When Lutheran teachers abuse students, the teachers not only scar the children physically and emotionally, but also spiritually. Here is a person that was placed in a position of spiritual leadership of a child who betrays that inherent trust, and, in so doing, can hinder a student’s relationship with Jesus. In effect, the teacher is leading the child AWAY from Jesus instead of TO Him.
All of this got me to think of one question: When does this happen? When do the machinations go into play that eventually lead to this abuse?
As a child, when the future teacher is dreaming of leading a classroom, does he/she think of abusing students in the future?
In college, when the future teacher is learning about pedagogy, classroom management, and course content, does he/she dream of abusing students in the future?
I would hope that the answer is no.
Author Daniel Webster in his book “The Real Deal” analyzes this question in regard to King David. King David did not wake up one day and say, “You know what? I’m going to sin today and put into motion events that will lead to my ruin!” Instead, as Webster eloquently explained in a presentation, “David walked away from God, one step at a time.” A bad decision here… a wrong choice there…
That is our danger in church work. There are some who take the “Nestea Plunge” away from God, but most take a small step, followed by another, and then another. I believe that we would be foolish to think that we are immune from temptations that have the potential to hurt others, destroy ourselves, and wound the Body of Christ.
So how do we guard against this? Prayer. I once worked with someone who would say in any situation, “The first thing we need to do is pray about it.” I love that advice! It is so incredibly simple and yet so powerful and accurate.
Pray about it. Pray for wisdom and discernment and then pray for strength and courage to follow that path. Pray for yourself. Pray for your family. Pray for your colleagues. Pray for me. I’ll keep praying for you as well.