My wife blessed me with about three hours of freedom one summer afternoon. She took our little ones off to a play date with a close friend, and I had the house to myself. Unheard of, right? Three hours of peace and quiet … are you kidding me? I was like a kid in a candy store! Once the door shut I immediately began planning my three hours and decided that as a surprise I should clean the house for the first hour. Vacuuming. Toilets. Toys away. Dishes. All that good stuff. By the end of that hour, I’ll have to say that the place looked spotless. Upon my wife’s arrival home, I was hoping for a little pat on the back. After all, I hadn’t even been told to do this; I did this on my own! The boys raided the house, and my wife and I began talking.
No pat on the back. Not even a single mention of the v-shaped lines in the carpet. Nothing about the dishes or toys. She used the restroom. Nothing about the toilets. Geez! I stopped her in mid-sentence when she came out and proudly declared my greatness to her, pointing out all that I had done. It must have been the way I said it because her response was priceless. She smiled teasingly at me.
“Did you want a medal?”
Ouch! That feeling almost reminds me of how I sometimes feel at work. Ever feel the same way? You worked countless hours on an amazing lesson and feel no thanks on the other end. Maybe someone doesn’t appreciate your efforts as you expected. It reminds me of the Youtube videos I posted last year of my voice reading our novel Freak the Mighty. There were a few of the videos that I forgot to turn off the comments section, and wouldn’t you know, although most of the comments are positive, there are always those biting comments that I have to delete. My favorite always comes after chapter 13 where apparently I yawned too much, and my critics are all too quick to point that out. I want to scream at them, “Hey, why don’t you try teaching all day then having enough energy to post a video after school!”
Slow down. Think about this. “Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for man” (Colossians 3:23). Translation: are you working to please your students, administration, or students’ parents? Or are you working to please God, knowing He sees all? The truth is God does see it all, and He sees our hearts as well. It is time we ask ourselves the question of when we go all out for something, are we doing that just to get a pat on the back from someone we know? When I throw myself onto my bed at night, drained from going 100 percent all day long, my reward should come from God. He knows! He knows every motive of my heart. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4: 12).
We should count ourselves fortunate as Christian teachers. Teaching can be such a thankless job. Sometimes our efforts may seem all for naught, but be humble. Accept that God knows your deeds, and He will reward you one day. Matthew 5: 16 states, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly father.” Praise God for every good deed He invests in you. My good friend and teammate Jeremi has won numerous awards over the past few years, yet she is a model example of humility. She brushes off the praise and continues on. She doesn’t work for the awards. She works for God! Believe me she could certainly be telling others of the grant money she has earned and of her trip to meet Obama for winning Science Teacher of the Year. But she’s above that.
Be a Jeremi. Be a humble Christian teacher that works for God, not man. Your greatest reward shall come when God calls you home to live eternally with Him. THAT is something to work for!
(The truth is that God does know all our motives. He knows our hearts and our struggles, and if we rely on Him, He can pull us through anything. I am reminded of this thought in Jeremy Camp’s “He Knows.” Enjoy the song below.)