Last Saturday morning I was watching a video with my men’s Bible study. The video was the first in a series to walk us through the new book we began, Stepping Up by Dennis Rainey. Toward the end of the video, all eyes were focused on a passionate preacher who challenged us to live out the scripture from 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14.
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
It was powerful. So powerful that I vowed to put that scripture to memory this week. I copied it eight times on a Word document and placed it numerous places around my house where I will see it daily. I even taped one next to my computer at work. Slowly, methodically, it has been put on my heart. So much in fact that I feel the need to share it with others, specifically teachers. With parent/teacher conferences on the horizon, each of the five components will be directly applied.
- Be on alert. Don’t take conferences for granted. Each parent has taken time out of their day to stop by and see you. Sometimes I notice myself making the same comments over and over. Certainly there are things that will be repeated; however, each student is a unique creature created by God, and they are all at different levels. Be honest about their successes and their needs. Be on alert against any negativity, and if you do have to call a student out for lack of motivation or behavior, choose your words carefully. Satan loves to slip in a few digs here, using your words to put a parent on the defensive. Be leery of those moments, and remember that every kid has something positive tucked away inside them. Whatever it may be, tell their parents about that potential you see.
- Stand firm in the faith. Your faith will be attacked. Every word you say is under watch. Exhaustion will more than likely set in during that long stretch Thursday afternoon. You might even have colleagues whisper jokes to you about students whom have fallen short. Gossip will spread about the parent that reeked of cigarette smoke or the pregnant mom with five kids running out of control through the tables. Stand firm in your faith as a Christian teacher. Through all these incidents, are you standing out as one who lives a little differently than those living in the world? Will parents know there is something a little different about you after leaving your table? Live out your faith through your words, actions, and reactions. Witness to others through the way you respond to certain situations. They should know you’re a Christian by the time they leave.
- Act like men. This is an easy one. Lean back. Scratch your belly. Burp and fart on cue. And don’t forget to take at least seven or eight glances at your live stream of the basketball game on your computer as you blow through the parents. Alright, let’s get serious now. A real man is strong, never wavering in his resolve. A real man is courageous to stick up for the underdog. A real man has empathy for rough home lives. Don’t beat around the bush. Be direct yet gentle. Be a positive male role model for the kid of the single parent that doesn’t get to see their real dad more than twice a month. Encourage parents to do all that they can with your best Braveheart speech. Men are clear cut. You know what you’re getting from a man. Men are like vending machines. Press E-6 and you know you’re getting the Snickers bar. Whatever button the parent pushes, be sure your product is in the form of words that Christ would be proud of.
- Be strong. The first hour you’re on a roll. By hour two you lose a little steam. By the third and fourth hours, you’re slapping that sign that reads “Back in five minutes” down just to get up and stretch the legs a bit. Maybe make a quick trip to the break room to snag a bottled water and cookie. Yes, you will certainly need endurance. Taking that break may be needed midway through, but make it a quick one. These parents deserve your best. Some have taken time off work, losing pay to see you and to check in on their kids. Fight off the urge to brush parents away just because you are tired. And if that one parent comes at the last second before dinner, give them your best. Your dinner will still be there when that parent leaves. Don’t be that teacher checking your watch, giving quick responses to shoosh the parents away for your own convenience. Be a Christian teacher. Be strong!
- Let all that you do be done in love. I love how when men read this verse they get all puffed up with the first four sections of the verse, beating their chests, but the last of this scripture may be the most important. In Matthew 22: 38 Christ said the most important commandment is to love God, followed closely by loving your neighbor as yourself. Love can be shown in many ways. Sometimes love is reaching out to the kid who is struggling. Sometimes love is challenging the student who is content with mediocrity to aspire higher. Love can be shown through words of appreciation. Love is likewise shown toughly through discipline. Proverbs 13: 24 is love and Matthew 5: 44 is love. Pray that God will guide you with the right love to show to everyone.