Called. It’s a term that has various meanings in the Church. As Lutheran schools and their churches enter the season of calling teachers within our schools, consider the following calls as schools seek the servants needed to minister to the kids in the school’s care-
*Called to faith- The call to faith comes from God through the Spirit’s work through word and sacrament. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide …” (John 15:16). St. Peter says that you are a chosen race, and that you have been called by Christ “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). It is all God’s doing as St. Paul affirms, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Martin Luther also reflects on this call in his explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed reminding that faith is all God’s work: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”
*Called to act- Those called to faith are called to act. St. Peter says more in the verse quoted above. He says, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Christians are called to a holy priesthood, living lives of sacrifice, offering up our “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1) and our lips in “a sacrifice of praise to God” (Hebrews 13:15). Christian service reflects the diverse gifts of the members of the body of Christ and the diverse situations we find ourselves in. St. Paul teaches: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
*Called to The Office of the Public Ministry- The office of the public ministry is unique within the church and was established by God that the Holy Spirit might “call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify the whole Christian church on earth and keep it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith” (Luther, Explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed). Those who are in the office of the public ministry been given the additional calling as servants who publicly preach and teach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments through which the Holy Spirit “works faith, when and where it pleases God [John 3:8], in those who hear the good news” (Augsburg Confession, Article V:2).
There is one such divinely-instituted office within the church, “the ministry of the Word.” “Every other public office in the church is part of the ministry of the Word or an auxiliary office that supports the ministry …. Therefore, the offices of Christian day school teachers …” are “to be regarded as ecclesiastical and sacred, for they take over a part of the one ministry of the Word and support the pastoral office” (CFW Walther, Church and Ministry: Concerning the Holy Ministry, Thesis VIII, section 1).
In Lutheran circles, calls are issued to pastors for the office of the public ministry. Teachers, Directors of Christian Education, music ministers, deaconesses and other synodically-trained people are called in support of the office of the public ministry. Lutheran teachers and administrators historically have been “called” positions. The primary reason our churches have established schools has been to teach Christ and Him crucified, so having called men and women for these positions has been essential.
In recent years, for some Lutheran schools, calls to these auxiliary positions of the office of the public ministry have morphed into a tenured contract, missing the close tie to the Church and to teaching pure Christian doctrine. Our schools would do well to not follow the course of many institutions of higher education that have abandoned their Christian foundations of being outposts of the ministry of the church.
The call has divine qualifications (see 1 Timothy 3:8-12); it’s quite a responsibility. Our schools’ administrators and teachers are well aware of the tasks at hand. Pray for our calling bodies and those who are issued calls that they find peace in decisions that God leads.