I Am Not a Teacher

For over 20 years I looked at myself as a teacher. For part of that time, I tried to elevate this into a calling and called myself an educator. Occasionally I considered myself a Rabbi.

These were all mistakes.

It has taken me way too long to understand who I truly am, or should be.

I am a servant. I am in service.

My particular field of service is education. In the service of whom? My students.

Does this title change make a difference? Aren’t I doing the same work, whether I call myself a teacher, educator, rabbi, or servant? Is the name significant?

I think it is.

Recently I spilled my guts out preparing for a group. Afterwards, I heard a young participant mention that he didn’t need this at all, that he already knew everything I said. Thoughts went through my head like: “What an entitled little *%#@. I’ll show him how little he knows.”

That’s what happens when I forget who I truly am. My “teacher’s ego” was wounded. It becomes about me.

But if I am in service – then it’s just not about me. The frustration is replaced by: “OK, how can I better serve my students? What does he need from me now?”

I feel honor and joy in being an educational servant.

I feel released from the vanities of seeing myself as a teacher or rabbi.

But most important — it is clear to me that my students have vastly benefited from this change in attitude.

Before I begin to teach I recite a short blessing to help me focus: “Please God, grant me the wisdom and maturity to serve my students on their unique paths.” Amen.

About the Author
Aryeh Ben David founded Ayeka: Center for Soulful Education in 2008. Ayeka educates rabbis, teachers, and professionals in bringing Jewish wisdom from our minds to our hearts to our souls and to our lives. He lives in Efrat with his wife Sandra and their 6 children.