Core scripture: “Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits” (Mark 6:7).
Message: I love a good steak. Cooked medium. Sizzling. Wrapped in bacon. Throw in some piping hot mashed potatoes and sweet green beans bursting with freshness and you basically have heaven on a plate. Before doing a large project, I always allow my students to envision their favorite steak. They share. They shout out to their favorite restaurant or chef. And the tummies start to rumble—especially if this happens to be right before lunch. Heck, mine is rumbling right now at 5:04 am!
Once the image is perfected, I pose a simple question: “So, how do you eat a steak?” You might have that goofy kid yell out, “As fast as I can!” I always laugh then follow that with, “What utensils do you need in your hands? A knife and fork, right?” They nod. “When you eat a steak, you cut it up, chunk by chunk. Piece by piece. If you try to put that whole thing in your mouth at once, I’m going to have to do the Heimlich on you!” Giggles. “When you do this project, treat it the same way. Break it down chunk by chunk. Piece by piece.”
What a powerful analogy. I always follow that with the story of my 6th grade science project. The kids love hearing this one because I was close to their age, and it shows how I didn’t always have it all together. I saved the entire report for one night! It was brutal. My good old dad, clothed in his blue bathrobe, paced around the living room table helping me scarf down that entire piece of meat in one night. I failed to chunk. Lesson learned. Peace finally came a few weeks later when I saw a 98 percent on my report.
Speaking of peace, that is out next Fruit of the Spirit. To be fruitful, the harmony that Jesus speaks about in John 16:33 must reign supreme: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” If Jesus overcame the world, I am pretty sure that entails all the worldly pressures that weigh us down. Even science projects that keep us up till 2:00 am. Jesus was the chunkmaster. We know He sent out His disciples two by two, and He gave them their objectives one direction at a time. Jesus chunked!
Teach your students how to chunk. Break things down for them. Provide step by step processes throughout the week. For example, if I am having the students write an entire essay, we begin with brainstorming and a graphic organizer. Then introductions. Then the body. Then the conclusion. Then editing. When they see it broken down like that, they can enjoy each piece of mouthwatering steak. Skipping a step would be like skipping the knife slicing through the steak. They do NOT want to be choking on that meat!
Speaking of peace and chunking, it works for teachers too. I just finished grading our first major paper in my class. There are times that the height of the stack of papers overwhelms me—unless I choose to chunk. So, I break it down. I set small goals to grade a certain number per day. I even chunk my days into smaller chunks yet! What I noticed as I finished grading yesterday is that I was able to handle more than I had planned, and a lot of that reason is because I broke everything down. It gave me peace Sunday afternoon knowing my grading was nearing completion, and I could enjoy my Sunday evening date with my wife so much more.
Do you crave that peace that only Jesus can give? Follow His model and break large tasks down for your students, not to mention yourself. The task may seem overwhelming, but with a slice here and a slice there, that steak that sits before you will taste all the better.
Challenge: What large project are you teaching that you can break down for your students? Math teachers might focus on the step by step process to arrive at an answer. Science teachers can break down the steps in their labs. Use numbers for the kids. Have specific directions written on the board, and don’t allow students to skip steps. Be their guide to help them achieve success!
Prayer: Lord, help me break down large tasks for my students so they can enjoy learning. Allow me to lead them through these overwhelming projects, giving them the same peace only You can give. Amen.