Never Give Up

Ever been discouraged before? Nah, I can hear you say. I’m the eternal optimist. I always look to the positive. (Please note my sarcasm there. Sometimes it is not clear in the printed word!) If you’re like me, every now and then you have one of those moments in teaching when you bang your head on your desk and whisper aloud Why do I even try? Kinda like the moment I had a couple weeks ago when I received some very sincere thank you notes in my mailbox. I opened them up one by one, savoring the messages from some of my students. Another teacher must have been looking for a way to keep them busy the day before. After the warm fuzzy grew inside me, the last note from a 3rd hour student incorrectly used “your” in place of what should have been “you’re” … THE DAY AFTER WE COVERED IT IN CLASS! Talk about a mindblower.

Yeah, I suppose we all have those moments. Teaching can burn you out when you stress over those little things that get at you. You know what I’m talking about. The kid that will never shut up. The mountain of grading that rises higher than the Sears Tower. The crazy parent that refuses to be satisfied. The time that just slips away during your plan hour, sifting through the hourglass before you ever have enough. Endurance comes in handy for teachers. If we all were like Paul, we’d be praising God right now. In His weakness he sought strength from God. After all, this is the same man who sang songs of praise with Silas in jail after being beaten. Do we as teachers consider ourselves fortunate to endure persecution? Humm. I have to admit that this is a struggle for me. I’m not sure about you, but every time my 5th hour student gets sent to his “island” in the back of the room for his lack of focus, I struggle in praising God for that moment.

What would God say about giving up? I’m sure He would first point to my Biblical hero Paul, the same guy who states, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4: 12-13). Paul epitomizes endurance. He is the type of guy that thrives on living a life of persecution. He was not happy in his former life before his conversion. He actually condemns it numerous times in his letters toward the end of his life. There he was, a respected and wealthy member of society, eating good, living a life of luxury according to worldly standards, yet he preferred his life of persecution. Why? Because it was all for God. He put his own selfish desires aside and worked for the Lord.

Are you working for the Lord? Would your students know you’re a Christian through your actions? How about your colleagues? Your principal? The parents you communicate with? You can attend church all you want, serve in soup kitchens, wear that cross around your neck, and listen to Christian radio in the car all the way to work, but if you flip that Christian switch off at work, the place we seem to spend the majority of our day, it means nothing. You are not allowed to be a luke warm Christian, flipping that switch on and off at your own convenience. When you give your life to Christ, it is a full immersion, a lifestyle change that says my life is now the Lord’s. You have to not only talk the talk but walk the walk. James 2: 24 states, “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” Faith is good, but unless you put that faith in action, you’re just spinning your wheels.

I will come to you in total honesty right now in an issue I am facing. Last spring the thought of beginning a Christian teachers organization in my school district inspired me. I blogged about it and even gave it a name. You can catch all those blogs in a specific section now labeled CTC (Christian Teachers Coalition). A few of my fellow colleagues, members of our school’s prayer group, encouraged me, and I set off to give birth to this organization. I chose the week of parent teacher conferences, thinking to myself that maybe that would be a good time. Maybe teachers would make use of that down time on Thursday afternoon or their extra day off on Friday to respond to e-mail. I chose my words carefully, trying not to make it too long of an e-mail but at the same time attempting to promote this group. Clicking send, I smiled at the possibilities. Numerous Christian friends of mine throughout the district were receiving this e-mail.

Days passed. Discouragement overwhelmed me until one day early that next week I received one response from a former colleague of mine who had recently changed buildings. God bless her! She made that dramatic change from middle school to high school and was missing the intimacy of our prayer group. She had even requested to still be part of our building’s prayer requests to start the year, and every week she exposes her heart through that googledoc. I wonder if she said she would be interested in helping just to be a part of something, but I knew her heart, and truth be told she was at the top of my list as an essential member of this new organization. I can now feel God telling me the good news, and discouragement is dissipating. It only takes a spark to start a fire. Friends, my fire is burning right now, but it means nothing if at least one person doesn’t kindle its flames.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to pressure people into giving birth to CTC. You shouldn’t do this out of guilt. God would tell you to spend your energy elsewhere if that is where your heart is. I am seeking the most passionate Christian teachers in my school district, and I want them on my team. Together we can build something that God would be proud of, something that will share God’s love and support to Christian friends everywhere. Am I crazy? I don’t think so. I am so tired of living out my faith only for my school. Why not broaden to the district? Why not broden to surrounding districts once we get our feet beneath us? Heck, dare I even dream of the state? Surrounding states? The entire nation? The world?

You ask the question of why. Do you know what I say … Why not? Let me dream big, and let God take us to places we have only dreamed. Shoot me a response back with your thoughts. Reply to this message. Maybe you’re a Christian teacher somewhere in Tinbucto, Idaho who has never met me, and you want to start something. Whomever you are, we can do this together. I go back to my life verse for this one: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4: 13).

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