If you could pick one quality that separates Christians from non-Christians, what would it be? What do Christians have that others don’t? Our pastor addressed that question the other week. He informed us that a poll stated Christians just seemed like happy people. People that are truly content with their lives. Much like Paul, they find joy in all circumstances, and they love and care for others. All these traits meld together beautifully to create an aroma of happiness that radiates from every action we take. Did you catch that? Every action.
Stop right there. I feel like Zack Morris on those old Saved By the Bell episodes, saying, “Time out!” I don’t know about you, but I feel like lately my own interactions with adults has been anything but happy. I don’t know if it is something in the water, a never-ending full moon, or if these short 3rd quarter weeks are just making the kids that much more crazy, but all I do is complain about them. I am not talking venting either. Venting is needed at times. With venting you just expel out the nastiness and move on to the positive. Complaining is longer. It sucks up your entire hour, even your entire day.
Complaining is contagious. It is a disease that spreads amongst teachers during this time of year. You almost feel like you’re out of the loop if you don’t complain, and believe me, with conference time a mere day away for our district, the idle time between parents shifting through is going to bring on an onslaught of complaining teachers. It gets even worse afterwards. The local bars will be stuffed with teachers throwing down a few cold ones, complaining about their worst nightmare of a student, and more than likely embellishing a bit about stories from the classroom just to get a laugh or two from colleagues.
Before you head onto this battlefield, pay heed to what God is telling the Christian teacher. In Philippians 2: 14-15, Paul states, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world …”
Think about that one.
Are you a grumbling teacher? A teacher that would rather tell stories of mischief to get a cheap laugh from a colleague? I look at my own words and actions right now, and I don’t see a happy man. I see someone who would rather tell others about Johnny Student who glued a classmate’s pencil to a desk, called another kid and the kid’s laptop a piece of … uh … excrement we’ll say, and didn’t know what else to do in his free time at home, therefore started a bombfire. (Yes, you heard me right. A bombfire. I told him that these things are actually called bonfires, yet he claims the explosion was so great that it indeed was a bombfire. I think Webster’s Dictionary should certainly take notice.)
Sorry. Had to get that one out. Just a little venting. The question now comes in how I will respond to the complainers out there in the upcoming days. Here are some suggestions that will make you stand out as a true Christian teacher, not just a poser that worships God on Sunday and lives in the world the remainder of the week. And believe me, gang, these suggestions are as much for me as anyone!
- Turn a negative into a positive. If someone says something nasty about a student, stick up for that kid by saying something positive. Every kid has something good inside them, even our late bloomers. Try to find that one positive trait and let it be known!
- Focus on the positive. Team plan hours this time of year can bring about a lot of negativity. If you are caught complaining the entire hour, spewing vomit as opposed to truly trying to solve the problems, take the last five minutes of the hour to each name one kid that is doing the job right. Let your thoughts end on those kids, not the ones that make us pull our hair out.
- Focus on the change, not the problem. The complainers will simply state the problem. Over and over until the cycle revolves half a billion times. Complaining gets you nowhere. Brainstorming and attempting tactics to help lost kiddoes will be more effective in the long run.
- Think before you speak. Your words should be calculated this time of year. As Paul states, the flesh is weak! If your word’s are not uplifting, encouraging, or sharing love, let those thoughts die before they are expelled from your mouth. Much like toothpaste being squeezed out, our words can never be taken back in.
- Pray. Pray for these kids. Pray for your colleagues. Pray for Satan not to have the last laugh on your school. No, you may not be able to do this audibly in front of students, but you can do it in your head. You can do it in your plan hour. And you can encourage other Christian teachers to do so as well.
My number one prayer this week is that we will all come across as Christian teachers that truly are happy, Christian teachers that are not of the world but that live the Word. Lord God, may we all reflect the happiness that awaits us in eternal life with You. May that happiness be reflected through not only our words but likewise our actions. We pray that our lives will be proof of the love you gave us long ago, the precious gift of grace through your son Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Do you have any suggestions, scripture, or songs that speak truth to complainers? One man’s mind is nice, but I wonder the possibilities of this blog if we all chimed in. Feel free to reply below!)