I’ve never been a gym teacher, but I’ve always admired them. I distinctly remember the two gym teachers at my junior high school-Mr. Smith and Mr. Kleptfer. They were just like the other teachers: Middle-aged, educated, dedicated to teaching, and serious about their professions. But they were also nothing like the other teachers. They got to wear shorts all day. They were a little more “edgy” in their language and humor. They were athletic and seemed younger than the others.
And…they seemed misunderstood. It seemed like Mr. Smith and Mr. Kleptfer never quite fit in with the rest of the teachers. They were just as well-educated and just as committed to their craft and their students, yet somehow appeared to always be on the outside….barely on the outside, but on the outside nonetheless…looking in.
But they didn’t seem bothered by any of that. In fact…they seemed to like it. And that’s why I admired them back in the day, and why I still think gym teachers are awesome!
You and me…we are the gym teachers of the ministry world.
We are just as smart as associate Pastors, but we are gym teachers.
We are just as educated as C.E. directors, but we are gym teachers.
We are just as dedicated as our Senior Pastors, but we are gym teachers.
We are just as serious as children’s Pastors, but we are gym teachers.
When I read articles about professionalism in youth ministry, there is often a fairly strong emphasis on things like time management, keeping a clean office, dressing in a way to be taken seriously, not having neck tattoos, etc. And there is wisdom (lots of wisdom) in all of that advice.
And while you are doing all of that stuff, remember to one more thing: Be the best gym teacher you can possibly be! Embrace your unique role in the church, relish the fact that you are sometimes on the outside looking in instead of resenting it. Mr Smith and Mr. Kleptfer didn’t seem preoccupied with trying to earn the respect of the science department. They were really good gym teachers, and they knew it. They chose it. They enjoyed it.
I’m fairly smart, well educated, committed and serious about my profession. You probably are, too. But at the end of the day, we are all gym teachers. So let’s commit to being the very best, most professional “gym teachers” the church has ever seen!
And for that, we will be admired.