A number of years ago, I was having one of those “end of the year” discussions with one of my advisees. I asked if her coursework and experience at the seminary had clarified her call to ministry. I still hang on to her response. She said, “if by clarity, you mean that I understand completely and specifically God’s call on my life, the answer would be ‘no.’ But…I understand more fully the wideness of God’s work in the world, and God’s invitation to participate in that work, as essential to my calling.”
What I appreciate about this response is how necessary it is for us to grasp “God’s work in the world” in order to articulate and pursue what we ought to be about in transformational education. From the scriptural story, we might sum up “God’s work in the world” as the continual work of redeeming and restoring what has been lost due to sin, a work made possible in Christ. His work is not over, and we have been called to participate in it. In Scripture, kaleō, or “call,” is sometimes translated as “invitation” (Luke 14: 7-11; Gal. 4:1-6; 1 Thess. 2:10-12). When God calls, He invites us to join in, and joyfully participate in, what God is up to in redeeming and restoring our brokenness.
What might God be “inviting” us to do in transformational education when it comes to His work of redemption and restoration?
Belonging to Christ and belonging to community are crucial to the process of redemption and restoration. We know that transformational education is a means by which the Gospel of Christ is offered to others, as we invite them to “belong to Christ.” Yet we also invite others to belong to a community where they can be ‘known’ and more ‘fully known’ as well. In Rethinking Rights and Responsibilities: The Moral Bonds of Community, Arthur Dyck reminds us that “belonging” is not an afterthought or a luxury for human well-being. Belonging to community is essential to it. Dyck suggests that this is true for all of us, but most crucial for those who are most vulnerable. In communities, needs are made known (in a variety of ways), and our proximity to others lessens our moral distance from them while also increasing our responsibilities. Thus, communal classrooms increase the moral bonds between us and our students.
With this moral proximity in our classrooms comes another avenue of redemption and restoration. As we interact with others and enter more and more into their lives, we are “schooled in the virtues.” The four classic virtues are temperance (self-control), wisdom, courage, and justice. As we work out these virtues with each other, along with the grand theological virtues of faith, hope and love, we learn from each other to become certain kinds of persons through the work of the Spirit. What we already do in our classrooms is significant for the formation of students: activities such as learning to share; learning to listen; learning to speak up; and learning from others. As together we learn and practice these virtues, we see how important they are to the moral bonds necessary for redemption and restoration. In particular, think about how your classroom might be schooled in the virtues. How do we help students develop the wisdom to understand what is good, right, true, noble and just (Phil. 4:8-9) in the pursuit of justice? How can we all learn to put the needs of others on par with our own (Phi. 2:1-4) as we learn wisdom and self-control?
Nothing we do in our classrooms is insignificant in the work of restoration and redemption to which we have been called. No practice of helping students develop moral bonds with others, and no opportunities to exercise virtues necessary for the well-being of all, are inconsequential. What an invitation we have received from God: to participate in His work through transformational education by sharing both knowledge of subject matters and wisdom, to help students start their own journeys of participating in God’s work of restoration and redemption, as we continue to say “yes” to this grand invitation from God.
Wyndy Corbin Reuschling, PhD
TeachBeyond Higher Education Services
 Arthur J. Dyck, Rethinking Rights and Responsibilities: The Moral Bonds of Community (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 1994).
Photo Credits: Student Huddle via Shutterstock. Teamwork via Shutterstock.