Core scripture: “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!” (Psalm 31:19).
Message: The complain bug has been nipping at me lately. It is rather sneaky, stealthy. It starts by finding a shortcoming in one student, and you feel obligated to spew it out. Sometimes the purpose is to elicit a laugh. Other times it is just to vent frustration. But that complain bug is contagious. The moment it sinks its teeth into you, it doesn’t stop. It finds another student to complain about. And another. Your colleagues hear it, making them think it is okay to complain too. Before you know it, you have an all-out gripe session that does nothing but spread negativity.
Brothers and sisters, I confess before you. I am guilty.
Conferences have arrived. The marathon begins tomorrow from 4:30 to 8:30 pm and continues the next day from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. My tone needs to change. Like now! If these parents had only heard the garbage coming out of my mouth over the past week—I don’t want to even think about it. Nonsense. Total nonsense. So, how do I get back on board? With God’s Word of course. Paul admonishes us by saying, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).
These questions are haunting me right now. Is it honorable to gossip behind my students’ backs? It certainly isn’t right. Or pure. Or lovely. Or admirable. The truth of the matter is that God instills goodness in us all. Even the lowest of the low. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that we are masterpieces of God’s creation. According to Psalm 139:14, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are all blessed diversely by God; we just have to find it. I make a promise to my students that if their parent shows up to see me at conferences, it doesn’t matter how they have performed: I will always start with a positive.
The best cure for the complain bug is goodness, our next Fruit of the Spirit. It may be a challenge to find goodness in all of our children, but it is there. Clear as day, it is there. It is time to start thinking about the positive attributes that my students possess. Whether these precious children have a warm smile, good handwriting, or positive social interactions, parents crave that. They need it! Yes, they need to know the whole truth too—the good, the bad, and the ugly—but they will soften with that warm compliment to begin with. It will make the improvements needed that much easier to navigate.
Crush that complain bug with positivity. Stomp on it like you would squash a roach skittering across your kitchen floor. Going back to our core scripture above, God’s goodness is so abundant! Find what is good, and let it marinate inside you. Pray about it. Meditate over scripture. Put God’s Word in your heart, and know this final truth: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). That, my friends, sounds more than appealing to me. Best of luck at conferences this week!
Challenge: Think of your three or four roughest around the edges students. List at least one good quality for each of them, and be prepared to share that information at conferences.
Song application: “Broken Things” by Matthew West
The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
The misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me
Quote: “Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.” (Anne Frank)
Bible story: Read the story of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3:1-14. Think about the background of Moses. He murdered an Egyptian. He was not the best speaker. Yet God found the good inside him and used him. How can this story inspire us, allowing us to realize that God uses us all for his good? How can God use the lowest of the low to spread His glory?
Prayer: Lord, allow me to see the good in all the sweet children that bless my classroom. Let me be a vehicle of Your love to parents as I communicate with them this week. Amen.