Genesis 28: 12-16 (NIV)
“He (Jacob) had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’


“We easily wear ourselves out trying to get each brick exactly into place, only to find that our walls are askew, our mortar is lumpy, and our plumb line sags. We must be gently reminded that God himself descends to us on the ladder of his promises and carries us up into his presence; that God himself is building us into a temple not made with hands, that the new Jerusalem has only one architect – and it is not us.” (Smith and Felch, 2016, p. 177)

No doubt we have all heard the phrase “climbing the ladder to success”. We have probably heard it in some context all of our lives. This phrase promotes the idea that to achieve success, we must take it one step at a time, always looking ahead, and always on the move. To attain what society calls “success” requires hard work, perseverance and tenacity. Moving up the ladder of success implies that a person progresses in their career to the next level – accomplished either by experience, educational degree or “knowing the right person”. Although this phrase can have a positive influence on people, encouraging perseverance and achieving goals can also weigh a person down with pressure to achieve.

As professional educators, perhaps we too feel this pressure to “climb the ladder of success.” We need to stay up-to-date with the best pedagogical practices, responsive classroom protocols, how to teach the whole child, social and emotional development of the child, time management practices, and curriculum guidelines are just a few of the rungs on our “ladder.” We are also expected to properly assess our students and communicate this to parents in an effective way. We are depended upon to participate in extracurricular activities outside of the classroom hours and we are expected to continue our professional development throughout our career through a variety of courses and seminars. The ladder can be tall, and sometimes it may seem that more rungs are being continuously added.

In the biblical account of Jacob’s dream at Bethel, we are given a scene of a ladder reaching to heaven. But we do not see Jacob climbing this ladder. Rather, Jacob is resting at the foot of the ladder. This does not mean that he will not see success. On the contrary – God’s promises to Jacob show success beyond Jacob’s imagining. He is promised land, descendants greater in number than the dust of the earth that will spread out into all regions. He is told that all people on earth will be blessed through him and his offspring. Above all, he is promised that God will be with him and will watch over him wherever he goes. These promises may not sound like “success” in the world that we live in, but we are not of this world. These promises are ones of blessing – being blessed and blessing others.

For Christian educators, climbing the various rungs on the educational ladder will inevitably be a part of a teaching career. Pedagogy is important, professional development is crucial and the practices within our classrooms are essential to helping our students develop to their full potential. However, we must start at the foot of the ladder as Jacob did in his dream. He rested there and God spoke blessings upon him.

What blessings do you desire God to speak into your life and your calling as a Christian educator? What do you want to see God do within the walls of your classroom and your school? This is the true success that we need to see. Not what we do, but what God does through us. Be still for a moment. Allow God to minister to you and pour His blessings out upon your life. Climbing a ladder requires movement, perseverance, strength, faith that the ladder will hold, and overcoming a possible fear of heights. Serving our students and our community well requires us to “climb the ladder,” but let’s start with resting and allowing God to minister to us.

Perhaps we need to begin each day at the bottom of the ladder and spend time listening to God’s promises.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Stacy Kok is a Senior Kindergarten teacher and Teaching for Transformation early adopter at Cairn Christian School in Stoney Creek, Ontario. Stacy is originally from Tennessee, USA and moved to Ontario, Canada in 1999, after teaching at a missionary school in Indonesia. While teaching in Indonesia, Stacy met her future husband who is originally from Grimsby, Ontario. Both Stacy and her husband spent a total of 5 years teaching in Indonesia before moving to Toronto. Stacy took time away from classroom teaching and devoted her time and energy to their 4 children. Seven years ago, Stacy returned to the classroom after serving 4 years on staff at her church as the Children’s Ministry Coordinator. Over the past 7 years, Stacy has had her teaching degree from Tennessee transferred to the OTC and has also received her Christian School Teacher’s Certificate. Stacy is currently enrolled as a part-time student with the Institute of Christian Studies in the Master of Arts (Philosophy) in Educational Leadership.