To Teach or Not To Teach?

I was saved at an early age and always knew God wanted to use me. My earliest career aspirations were to be either a teacher, a missionary, or a Pastor's wife. My first year of college found me studying German with the intentions of becoming a teacher. A missions trip to Senegal, WEst AFrica the next summer re-set my course to getting a degree in French with the goal of returning to Senegal as a missionary. The next few years of college left me struggling to figure out whether I should teach or go into missions. Every one seemed to be encouraging me to teach and I wanted to teach too. On the other hand, I felt like being a missionary was a good thing and perhaps more what God would want from my life. I decided to pursue teaching, but always feared that maybe I had missed God's best for my life. Towards the end of my college days I really began struggling with my faith and distancing myself from God. That sealed my decision because you can't be a missionary when you are questioning the very faith you would need to be sharing.

I entered my first year of teaching as a basket case. Hopeless and suicidal without God's ruling presence in my life, I knew I had to return to Him full-heartedly, even if I couldn't fully understand Him or the way He was working in my life. I began attending a small church in town and God began the healing and restorative work in my life. Through the pastors and several key friends, life once again took on meaning, hope and joy. I loved teaching and for the next 3 years, never thought of leaving the profession. I was the advisor for the Christian Fellowship Club in our high school, had lots of opportunities to talk heart to heart with kids both at school and at youth group, was given the Teacher of the Year recognition and had a good reputation in the community. Yet in the midst of all of this, I began to question if I was really having an impact that would last for eternity or if I was just doing a little bit of good for the here and now. I wanted to use the time God has given me here on the earth to the best of my ability and began questioning if I really was.
Added to all of this was my incorrect belief that God didn't really want me to be happy. I thought that since I loved teaching, it must be wrong and that I had to sacrifice what I loved for Him. I had a warped view of God that made me think He could never be as pleased with me as a public school teacher as He could be of a person in full-time Christian vocation. The logical answer then was to give up what I loved most to earn greater pleasure from God. That's how I ended up moving to Chicago and working at Pacific Garden Mission - a Christian rescue mission for the homeless.

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