I didn’t want to teach. Public speaking always created a knot in my stomach, so to make that my everyday experience wasn’t attractive. I remember, as a freshman in high school, trying out for the school play only because my friends did. The shock was that they didn’t receive a part, whereas I got a high-profile one. I thought I would be sick and seriously considered bailing out. Yet I survived and did quite well. I went on to “star” in other plays. But that sick feeling never went away when I prepared to go on stage. I still get butterflies today every time I go into the classroom.
In college, I majored in radio, television, and film production, primarily to work behind the cameras. I did love history, so I minored in it, but never made the leap to a history major because I sensed it would lead to fulltime teaching. History was a nice avocation, but nothing I wished to develop further.
My degree led me to work at the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in the early 1970s. At first, I was doing what I expected, running an audio board behind the scenes for the television ministry. Yet as I listened to the CBN radio station, which was housed in the same facility, an almost unexplainable desire to go on the air began to rise within. So when an opening occurred—for the all-night announcer slot—I jumped at it. It was an education, to say the least. What did I learn? How to intersperse Christian music with what I hoped was significant commentary and how to deal with listeners who would call me. Both would come in handy as I branched out into teaching.
While working at CBN, I became attached to a local independent congregation that inspired deep Bible study. Eventually I joined the pastor’s small circle of young men he was preparing for the ministry. As part of that calling, I was tasked with teaching in various situations. I discovered an almost innate ability to communicate with the people in the congregation. It was natural for me to intertwine serious Biblical teaching with a sense of humor. The conviction was increasing within me that the Lord wanted me to be a teacher, one way or another. I didn’t know at the time what precise route that might take, but I remained open for God to show the path.
During my third year at CBN, the church decided to start a Christian school. The pastor obviously wanted someone with a college degree to take responsibility as headmaster. I had that minimum qualification, and since I also had a great desire to serve fulltime in the church, he chose me to serve as headmaster of the new school. One thing I can say categorically as I look back on that decision: a twenty-five-year-old college graduate in radio, television, and film production probably is not the best choice for the role of headmaster. I had no formal training in education other than what I personally had experienced. Also, at twenty-five, I was not mature enough to know how to handle all that would challenge me in that position.
What happened next? More tomorrow.