I heard the groans even back before Spring Break. Assessment time. Ugh! The stresses. The worry. The uncertainty. I see the state assessments as a huge fire-breathing dragon that literally sears the life out of us all, charring us with flames from its hideous mouth. Before this beast’s flames sear you like an overdone shish kabob, meditate on this truth: “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him … (Revelation 12: 9). If that isn’t enough to quench your thirst for truth, read on. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12: 11). Game. Set. Match. God wins!
What? That wasn’t enough? Alright, alright. I will be understanding here. Even as my Language Arts state testing begins here in a couple hours, I still have that tinge of worry creeping up my spine. This blog is as much for me as it is for you all. But I am excited to share with you what God has been speaking to my heart this morning. His Word is my blueprint to power through assessment season, and I hope it is yours as well. He actually jarred me awake about a half hour before I normally wake up to allow me to play with these thoughts in my head. It is time to ask ourselves this intriguing question: If Jesus were in charge of my class, how would He survive state testing?
Core truth number one: Before you even begin, stop complaining. Sorry, I had to get that out to begin with. Complainers suck me down, and if I listen to those complaints, guess what? I begin complaining. Paul tells us, “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” (Philippians 2: 14-15). A student gave me a quote last week that read, “Complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any better.” Amen? If you need to vent it out, do just that. Get it out ONCE and let it be. Move on!
Core truth number two: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5: 17). I hope you pray for your kids. Pray and believe! Arrive a little early, and walk through the testing room. Sweep your hands over the desks. Ask God for His presence, His comfort, His peace to be seen in your room. Straight from the mouth of our Savior, “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it” (Matthew 21: 22). But don’t just stop before. Let that prayer flow through your entire day! If you see a kid struggling, pray for him in your head, knowing God will intervene. Prayer is God’s trump card, and it will leave Satan cowering in a corner, hunkered down in a fetal position, sucking on his thumb.
Core truth number three: Be positive! Never underestimate the importance of a pep talk. Paul tells us, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are also doing” (1 Thessalonians 5: 11). Have you ever had that teacher or coach that made you believe in yourself? I will never forget my greatest mentor from high school, Coach Rampy, making me believe that my 5’8’’ 152-pound body could do more than I could ever hope or dream of on the football field. I love pulling my students into a huddle around me when I do this. Rehearse that speech. Know what you’re going to say. Most of all, never forget the omnipotence behind Philippians 4: 8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Take a deep breath now. Smile. Even chuckle a bit! Do you see that dragon above, wallowing in its own self-pity? Crying for its mommy? Don’t let Satan get the best of you during testing season. If you need a little endurance, be reminded, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope …” (Romans 5: 3-4). Cling to that hope. Embrace it. Let it become a part of who you are. Remember that you are the captain of this ship. If your students see confidence, positivity, and hope, that empowerment will ooze into their souls, allowing them to conquer it all. Even that wimpy-looking dragon in the corner.
(I truly don’t know how many people actually listen to these songs down here, but I will pretend they leave you inspired nonetheless. To slay that dragon, you best be fighting the good fight, hence I give you the lyrics to “Good Fight” by Unspoken. Check it out below.)