My Kansas City Royals are World Series Champions! With clockwork precision, they dismantled the Mets in five games, taking advantage of every opportunity given to them. They did it by playing to their strengths. Escobar constantly got on base as the leadoff batter, slapping singles and doubles—and dare I mention an inside-the-park homerun—to put speed on the base-path. Zobrist was always good for a double. Cain added speed and power. Morales, Hosmer, and Perez hit more for power, driving in runs. Then there were guys like Orlando, our defensive specialist, and Dyson, our speed demon, coming off the bench at critical times. The starting pitchers were always good for five or six innings, handing the ball over to our lights out bullpen. The result was undeniable: a World Series Championship. (And a day off school today so teachers and students alike could enjoy the victory parade!)
The Royals knew their gifts and utilized them to win it all. So, let’s connect the dots to the roles Paul talks about in his New Testament letters. “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12: 5-8). Chew on that for a minute. Digest it. God made each of us unique, giving everyone distinctive qualities to further His kingdom. Some of us prophesy. Some of us serve. Others teach. Others encourage. The truth is quite evident: we are all unique creations.
Think about this one … where do your strengths lie as an educator? Are you utilizing those strengths in the classroom on a daily basis? Or are you attempting to be somebody you are not? If God were in charge of your classroom, what would He have you doing? How can you best get the message across for students to learn and grow? I challenge you to think about these questions, evaluate yourself, and even journal about how you utilize your strengths in the classroom. I can guarantee, just as Royals manager Ned Yost would never have his pitcher bat cleanup, God wouldn’t want you trying to be somebody you’re not in the classroom. Play to your strengths. Excel at what you do best. Polish these gifts that God has blessed you with and watch them work magic around you.
Let’s look at an example. My friend and co-worker Jordan excels at technology. He is likewise passionate about theater, not to mention video games. What has he accomplished this year? Amazing things! He has flipped his classroom where students can get on Youtube to watch his lessons. He utilizes Google Classroom to communicate all his lessons, going paperless and letting students use their iPads for learning. He teaches lessons using impersonations of famous celebrities. A kid last week showed me a video of Jordan teaching a social studies map lesson as Bill Cosby! Finally, his love for video games has spilled into him using an app called Classcraft where students become video game characters, earning special powers for performance in the classroom. Some of his most apathetic learners have now become passionate players in his game. All because Jordan recognizes his strengths.
As Ned Yost manages the Royals, God should be the manager of the Christian teacher. Are you utilizing your strengths in your teaching? Where does God want you to be? I can tell you this. If you think every teacher out there is a Jordan, you’re dead wrong. God wouldn’t want you to be somebody you’re not. He wants you to be you! Be unique. Be different. Refine what you do best, and watch your classroom transform.
(In place of a song this week, a friend from church shared the following videos with me last weekend. Marcus Buckingham talks about exactly what was discussed above, and he brings up some great points. Enjoy both of his videos below.)