By Jim Ingram
Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. (2 Corinthians 9:13)
After a number of decades working as an electrician, I was asked to join a small vocational school as an instructor. I lacked confidence and was reluctant to accept. I had no formal training as an instructor and being in my late ‘60s, I knew it would be a big change moving from the field to the classroom. After the third time being asked, I decided to seriously discern if this is what the Lord wanted.
It was, and I began a difficult journey to become an electrical instructor. I was experienced in wiring procedures and use of the national code, but unsure of how to teach it in the classroom. The materials I received were minimal. I was anxious that my lack of teaching experience would be apparent. Much of my knowledge came from observing others, especially my father, asking questions and learning code.
I always had a desire to teach others the trade. I quickly learned that taking my students to actual construction sites, and giving “on the job training” enabled me to share the wiring procedures I understood well. My lab is in actual houses, gaining real wiring experience. I seek to empower my students to engage in meaningful work and not only teach my students electrical procedures, but also how to be men of integrity.
The Working for Our Father seminar stresses that “through commerce the needs of all will be met.” I desire that my students understand, appreciate and participate in the gift of good work, of commerce. I seek to teach them the skills necessary to be a good employee so they can get and keep a job.
Show up for work. Work hard. Learn the trade. Do your best every day. By teaching my students to overcome poor work habits and grow in integrity, they too can participate in the valuable work as a means of meeting their material, personal and even spiritual needs. I teach them that success won’t all come at once. We must play the long game; have the long vision. I also know that along the way they will need help, so I must be patient.
One of my students asked me why I do this. He was a little surprised that at seventy-one, I am still working. I told him it’s because God told me to do it. I want to be obedient to that call. I hope that my students learn from my efforts to model right speech, respect, good work habits and values. Jesus is my model. He worked together with his men. He taught them what he knew by his actions and wisdom. Jesus was the perfect example of Working For Our Father. I hope I am also.