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iWhyWhy Do I Still Teach in a Lutheran School?

jonathan BoltBecause!

Because Lutheran schools have been good to me. My parents were two committed Lutheran educators raising three children who packed up and moved their family across the country when the Lord called them to serve. I attended our Lutheran school with my friends whose parents were other faculty members. It seemed like most of their families were from the Midwest, and so we developed close relationships spending holidays and “everydays” together. They became family. We ended up moving and then moved again. But at each stop was a Lutheran school. There were different buildings, kids, and teachers. But the message at each school was the same—that Jesus loved me and died for me.

Why do I still teach in a Lutheran school?

Because through teaching in Lutheran schools, God gave me opportunities for personal and professional growth. Pursuing a masters degree through Concordia University Wisconsin connected me with cohorts in similar situations in Lutheran schools. He has given me a family beyond blood by providing colleagues who share ministry and a part of their lives as we face challenges together, working side by side to care for those placed in our classrooms. We are bound together in the Faith as we have moved on, always united in the Gospel even as we serve in new places and positions.

Why do I still teach in a Lutheran School?

Bolt teachingBecause in a very regular way, Lutheran schools are just like every other school. Parents send their students to us. We teach them. They learn. They grow. They move on. Our students can read. Their students can read. Ours can sing and play instruments. Theirs can sing and play instruments. Our teachers work to give their students the best lessons and experiences possible and the same is true for our colleagues in other public and private schools. I’ve met many public school teachers who spend the extra hours prepping lessons or grading papers. I know a few teachers at more prestigious, private schools who coach, manage, direct, or advise after their classroom duties end.

To many people, Lutheran schools are no different from these others. And in many ways, they are right. In our buildings, Satan is working hard, if not harder, than in those other places. Each day we see the results of our sinful nature in the lives of our students. Yes, there are the more obvious impacts of sin in our students' lives: broken homes, neglect, abuse, and trauma. But the real challenge is dealing with those where sin’s impact is less obvious — the ones who hide their pain behind clean clothes, groomed hair, and a smile. These students are no less spiritually broken even if they are well fed and housed. In our schools, we experience the same brokenness as the rest of the world, but Lutheran schools are different.

Why do I still teach in a Lutheran school?

Because while many schools offer social programs to assist those who need lunch or breakfast, in a Lutheran school we offer our students and families the Bread of Life. Many schools offer sports and athletics to help students develop healthy hearts and competition. In a Lutheran school, you find teachers and administrators who seek to supply their students with all that is necessary to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” While all schools work to supply their students with the knowledge they’ll need to go out into the world as they move towards “college and career readiness,” in a Lutheran school, students find the wisdom and knowledge needed to be ready for eternity.

Why do I still teach in a Lutheran School?

bolt teachingBecause I look back to a time before I officially started. I’m sitting in a class before embarking on the great adventure for which I had spent four years preparing. Student teaching was literally a week away, and I was spending the better part of each beautiful Ann Arbor August day in a conference room with my peers while two “old guys” taught us about being a Lutheran teacher—Office of the Christian Teacher. In that room, with those two men, with my classmates, I heard the unblemished truth of being a Lutheran School Teacher. The pay isn’t great. The hours are lousy. The expectations are high. The budget is low. And you need to coach this team, advise this organization, or direct this choir. Oh, and on Sunday, we’ll need you to teach Sunday school too! Dr. Locke and Mr. Braun described potential situations, conflicts, and expectations that awaited us when we received our first call. Though the specifics of all of this have been displaced by over a decade of my own experiences, I will never forget the phrase that has been a touchstone in my ministry. As we sat, getting our heads around all the information, Dr. Locke stood before us and reminded us why we were there in the first place: “We’re in the business of getting kids into heaven. It’s that simple.” And every time that I experience those situations they prepared us for, and even those they had not, I recall those words and how well they sum up our work here on earth.


Why do I still teach in a Lutheran school?

Bolt familyBecause a day will come when the frustrations and challenges that we may experience will pass. And God will wipe every tear from our eyes as he takes us home to Him. And when we reach that place, we will join those that we served alongside, those that we taught, reminded, reprimanded, and cared for as we celebrate the feast of the Lamb that has no end.

Why do I still teach in a Lutheran school?

Because Jesus loves me, and He died for me. What better opportunity can I have than to share that joy with learners and their families as they go through the trials of life? And what better place to do that than in a Lutheran School? There isn’t.

 And that’s why I’m here.

Jonathan Bolt and his wife Casey have served at Lutheran schools in Traverse City and Rochester, Mich. where they added two kids to their family. Currently they serve at Central Lutheran School in New Haven, Ind.

If you want to share an iWhy, send the story of how you became a Lutheran school teacher to ed.grube@lea.org with the subject line iWhy. (Try to keep it to 600 words or so, if you can.)—the editor