As a young boy, I was fascinated by the personality of Moses. Miraculously saved, he became the leader of Israel. Growing up in the palace of the highly developed and compelling center of Egypt and preparing for his duties as the royal prince, he somehow managed to stay humble: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.“ (Numbers 12:3). Years before, Joseph had been at the top of this mighty kingdom, and despite his power, he also kept the balance. Centuries later, Daniel got his education at the court of Nebuchadnezzar.
As I grew older, I realized how difficult it must have been for them not to become proud. All three of them were highly educated and well prepared for the challenges and tasks of their prospective careers. They had all prerequisites to become a superstar – and subsequently proud and arrogant. They were well educated, in the right position and even knew God on their part. But somehow, they proved to be humble and meek leaders.
Change of scene: Working as a teacher in some ways puts me in a similar position. As a teacher, I am the one who knows. I am well educated, though sometimes not entirely that well prepared for the challenges the students put me up to. But generally speaking, I have the image of knowledge. A teacher knows. Why? Because he is the teacher. My experience is that the younger my students, the more they look up to me. The younger my students are, the more they take for granted what I say. So, in a teacher’s world, I am always right.
But more than that, as Adventists, we know the truth. We have the answer. We have the answers. We are used to giving those answers and being right, after all. The aura of a teacher and our firm foundation, which, by the way, I do not question, sets me in an atmosphere of potential arrogance. And that challenges me every day. Because it is not easy to stay humble under these circumstances.
With all that in mind, Moses, Daniel, and Joseph became significant models to me. Obviously, they managed to remain humble – and be great leaders. That is what I strive for. I hope that we, as Christian educators, become known as understanding, open, and loving teachers. Teachers who are quick to listen and hesitant to “teach.” Teachers proving that meekness is not alien to them. Educators that show that a humble teacher might be a paradox but not an oxymoron.