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Servant Heart of an Educator

June 13, 2023

Those of us in Catholic education as an administrator, teacher, catechist, or in any other capacity, are participating in this mission for a reason. We have answered God’s call to a vocation to serve His children and draw our students closer to Him. Undoubtedly, this requires a servant’s heart.

Pope St. John Paul II declared at World Youth Day 2000,

“It is Jesus you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”

John Paul the Great was speaking directly to fulfilling one’s vocation and following God’s will. Truly, it is often not an easy or a smooth path as we all can attest. To be an educator in our current culture requires great humility and sacrifice especially within a Christian setting in an increasingly secularized society. We are fighting against the predominant cultural narrative to teach the truths of our Catholic faith, which often  results in the pressure to give everything we have until there is nothing left of ourselves, as we are completely depleted.

What does it mean to have a servant’s heart as an educator? We seek to be more Christ-like in serving others as Jesus did. We look for opportunities to draw our students closer to God by seeing the example we set as witnesses to our faith. We must do this with purpose, but also while in Communion with Christ. By allowing ourselves to be fed through our prayer life, frequenting the sacraments, and opening our hearts for His graces to work through us will help us to fulfill the physical and spiritual needs of our students. With a servant’s heart we are willing to ask God for the support needed to help us be equipped to lead and serve those students He has put before us. Reading scripture through Lectio Divina, meditations on an app, daily mass or following the Catechism or Bible in a Year Podcasts are examples of opportunities to open ourselves more fully to be led towards a deeper prayer life. It is difficult to serve others and give of ourselves if our resources are constantly emptied without replenishment.

“Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission if I did not tell you so. Love demands a personal commitment to the will of God” (Pope St. John Paul II, Pilgrim of Peace 1979). True love is defined by St. Thomas Aquinas as “willing the good of another person”. We understand this “good” to be determined by God. This can be difficult at times when we need to be disciplinarians, speak the truth of the faith (always with love and mercy), or encourage students to work harder to develop and share the gifts that God has given them.

The inspired verses in 1 John 3: 18-20 implore us,

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him.”

At the beginning and end of each school year it is especially beneficial to reach out to God in prayer as He will guide, strengthen, and shepherd us in leading those entrusted to us into a deeper relationship with Him.  As the school year wraps up, take solace in the promises God has given his faithful, “But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).

Finally, thank you for answering God’s call to become an educator and an authentic witness to our beautiful Catholic faith; God’s invitation to His plan and purpose for each of His unrepeatable sons and daughters! “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers and if he listens to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi 41)

Enjoy the rest, relaxation, and take time to recharge your servant’s heart during this well-deserved summer break. Know that you and your students are offered up in our prayer intentions at Ruah Woods Institute during the Divine Mercy Hour in our Chapel daily.

Written by, Dena Reany,
Curriculum Consultant, West-Southwest for Ruah Woods Institute



Dena Reany