16 Dec Teaching is my Vocation
Mechanical engineer, I dreamt of becoming one, but it remained a dream for any girl in the 1960s. Girls were not given admission in Mechanical stream under the assumption that they were too weak to work with machines. My next option was Mathematics which was taken by very few girls at that time. But my father had an entirely opposite dream, to make me a doctor. So, in plus 2, I was forced to take Biology as major and had to appear for Medical entrance. To satisfy him I appeared but without much preparation. However, as we have Mathematics (noncredit paper) in plus 2, I opted for Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry in UG, broke our college record in Mathematics and was selected for the state merit scholarship. But my dream to take Math in PG was shattered as my teachers advised me to do Chemistry in order to settle early in a good job. After PG in Chemistry, I joined for Ph.D. programme in Madras (Chennai) IIT. But my health issues forced me to quit Ph.D. after a few months.
This was a turning point in my life. Just before my admissions in IIT, one of my best friends died of an unknown disease and a seriously sick cousin was admitted at CMC, Vellore for treatment. These two incidents made me think about life seriously. (A Hindu by birth, I later turned into an atheist). After returning from IIT, I took up teaching profession in a college, in which I was least interested. But my trials for other jobs were in vain. I wished someone would guide me about the right career that would suit me, so that I could work in that direction.
Almost after 3 years into the teaching field, I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal saviour. At that time I appeared for ONGC against the advice of well-wishers who thought it was not safe for women. I qualified in the written test and was so confident that God would give me success in the interview also. I was so excited that finally God was going to bless me in my career. But I was so disappointed and devastated when I was not selected. Unable to sleep the whole night I was crying. At 4 a.m. the next morning, I opened my Bible asking the Lord to speak. My regular quiet time portion was John 14. The words “Do not let your hearts be troubled” comforted me and I had a great peace in my heart. I thanked God and understood that the job was not good for me, a young believer who needed fellowship and follow-up.
Afterwards I was never disheartened; rather I started enjoying my career – teaching Chemistry, the subject which was considered tough by many students. And the Lord helped me to teach effectively and creatively for the next 35 years. Apart from the regular and mandatory training programs arranged by our college management and Academic Staff Colleges, I attended Faculty Development Seminar, Leadership seminars and Counselling seminars etc. organized by Haggai Institute and Person to Person to improve my skills. I used to share my knowledge and experiences outside the college with my colleagues. I also helped in organizing seminars for them with eminent and effective Christian resource persons. When I retired, my college correspondent remarked, “I have been observing madam for the past 33 years. The secret of her success is her faith in Jesus Christ”. My principal appreciated my dedication to teaching, helping the management in other areas and availability at any time. I am always thankful to God for bestowing me with the spiritual gift of teaching and used me to teach Chemistry and the Bible doctrines.
Through my personal experience and the seminars I attended, I understood the Biblical view of work and vocation. Human beings were created in the image of God (1:26-28). God planted a garden and put man there to work and take care of it (2:8, 15). The fall (3:17-19) has distorted God’s intention for work and changed things for us. Instead of enjoying and being content, the “garden” we labor in is now filled with thistles and thorns – work is now hard and marked with difficulties. The other effect of the fall is that, we, as workers, lose perspective on who God is and His purpose for our lives. We no longer work to the glory of God. However, thankfully, God through the work of His Son is redeeming men and women to Himself. Those who trust in Jesus Christ are transformed from the image of the man of dust (Adam) into those who will bear the image of the man of heaven (Jesus) 1 Cor 15:49. In the process, He is restoring the nature and purpose of work in the lives of those who belong to Him. God has a plan for each one of us (Jeremiah 29:11; Isaiah 55:8,9) and He gives the required abilities, talents and skills (Exodus 35:30-36:2).
Work is an opportunity given by God to be fruitful and to make an impact in the world we live in. Hence, jobs are not merely to earn money. They are a means by which we can use our talents and abilities to develop godly character. Through our character, we can increase our circle of influence. I am really happy to testify that some of my students are active in UESI, Church and other organisations. A whatsapp group is formed with more than 100 alumni for whom monthly meetings on zoom is conducted for fellowship and prayer. The ministry started in our college still continues even after 5 years of my retirement. Some non-Christians students are now in very good positions, excelling in their professions and are known for their sincerity and honesty.
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” – Viktor E. Frankl
V Gouri Kumari is a retired lecturer in Chemistry and a graduate from Tenali, Andhra Pradesh. Hailing from a Hindu family, she came to know Christ through her colleague and EGF graduate. She is active in UESI ministry as a family.