Well teachers, we are halfway through another year. For some of you, you are counting down to retirement… but for the rest of us, we are still counting up. Regardless of where you stand on your teaching journey, I bet we all share one thing in common – we are tired. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. Tired.
Many times non-educators do not understand the mental and physical capacity it takes to be a teacher. Teaching is like being the ringmaster of a three ring circus, except you are training the animals while also trying to get them to perform and everyone in the crowd is yelling at you, telling you a better way to do the job. All the while, you are genuinely concerned about the animals because you see their struggles. And if you are like me, many days you want to just throw the whip down and say, “There has got to be a better way.”
And while doing our best to train these “animals” many of us are haunted by fear, or at least I know I am. I am afraid that things won’t ever change, that I am in a declining profession that will continue until it crashes at the bottom. I am afraid that all my energy and sacrifice means nothing, changes nothing. I am afraid, that despite all those feel good stories about teaching, I am really not making a difference at all.
And that making a difference is what makes it worth it, it is what makes teachers want to teach in the first place. So, if we take that away, if teachers no longer feel like they are making a difference, then what is there?
Gosh, I am feeling a little depressed just putting that on paper, but there is hope. I don’t believe God led me, or any of you, into a career – a lifestyle – just to watch us crash and burn.
While looking at the story of David and Solomon, there are several truths we can take from that story and apply to teachers.
Take the time to read 1 Chronicles 28:9-21 so you understand the basis of the story. From the story I learn several things.
We are chosen.
After reading this story, I know we teachers have been chosen.
David had felt for a long time that he wanted to build the temple, a permanent resting place for the ark of the covenant, but because of several different reasons, God chose David’s son Solomon to build the temple instead.
Just as God chose Solomon, teachers have been chosen for their work. It is a calling. A gift.
I know you may feel burdened, overwhelmed, run down, worn out, helpless, or a host of other defeating adjectives, but take pride and comfort in the fact that God chose you for this profession, and knowing that means he will equip you for all that you will face.
Ask yourself if you are looking to Him for what you need, or are you trying to find it somewhere else.
God has a plan.
As I read the story of David passing on his temple building plans to Solomon, I read a whole paragraph of just instructions…what would be gold, what would be silver, outlining the work of the priest and Levites… you know one of those paragraphs that we tend to skim as we read through the Bible.
But, the last sentence in the paragraph catches my attention… All this he made clear to me in writing from the hand of the Lord, all the work to be done according to the plan (1 Chronicles 28:19)
David stated that the plan came from God, the writing from His hand… like WOW! And then David says, all the work should be done according to God’s plan.
Well, God has a plan for our lives as well. Those aggravating students in your classroom – part of God’s plan. That parent who emails 3 times a day – part of God’s plan. That coworker who gets under your skin – yep, part of the plan too.
And while we tend to want to avoid those people and situations, maybe even pray over how they can be removed, God has a purpose. Our prayer should change to understanding His purpose and plan in our lives. Knowing God has placed them there, either to benefit you or them, can be a real change in perspective.
He is always with us.
For a long time, my Christian life and my teacher life were two separate lives I led. And while I still have room to grow, I pray over many more details in school than before. I realize God is in my lesson plans, in my grading, and in everything about my career. And when I let Him guide my decisions, I can see a difference.
Things aren’t always perfect, that’s not what I am saying, but when I make a point to include God in all my decision making – even at school – then when things blow up in my face, I know He is still there.
There are countless scriptures that remind us not to be afraid and nearly every one of them follows it up with because God is with you. Look back to our story. What does verse 20 tell us? It says, Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed for the Lord God, even my God, is with you.
Our sole reason, and the only reason we need, to not fear and to act in courage is because God is with us.
Think of all the stories in the Bible: David, Daniel, Ester, Joseph, John, Paul, and the list goes on. Now think of stories in your own life and the lives of those around you. Miracles happen when we have faith and recognize that God is with us.
So we just need to act.
Yes, I feel a little like a Nike commercial – Just do it. And when I say that we need to act, I don’t mean just teach like you always have. See, I think teachers have this attitude that when things are bad, they think, well, this is just how it is. I am just going to have to suffer through it.
When God chose us as teachers, he never intended for us to just suffer through. No, the Bible even tells us to count our sufferings as joy, to know that when we are suffering He is building our faith (insert smart comment about just how great your faith is due to your suffering, yeah, I know it).
So when I say act, I am not asking you to just suffer through your career, wondering what you could have chosen instead, wondering how your life could have been different – better. (I know, I have been there and still visit sometimes).
In 1 Chronicles David said to Solomon, Do not be dismayed because he knew that there would be obstacles and troubles and Satan when Solomon set out to build the temple. Trails are a guarantee, not a sign to give up and become apathetic.
For this reason, he also said, Be strong and courageous. Good teachers have to be strong. Good teachers have to be brave. We have to act in the face of lies, disrespect, and general disregard.
Sadly, our classroom is our battlefield. There is a battle of light and darkness waging in your classroom, in the halls or your school, and all around.
Build that temple. Not just in your heart, but in your classroom. So students have somewhere to go to see the light.
Yes, the devil will try to penetrate. He may get in. But don’t give up – don’t be dismayed.
Follow the spirit and act.
This section of 1 Chronicles ends with David saying He will not leave you or forsake you until the work of the service of the house of the Lord is finished.
God was not going to leave Solomon and He is not going to leave you.
So remember you are chosen to carry out a plan for God. He will be with you always, so get in there and act.