Core scripture: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
Message: How was your Easter? Mine was great. Thanks for asking! Our church opened its new campus, tons of new faces could be seen milling about, and the worship … oh, the worship! … it was spine-chilling. I savored every second of it. It was hard to leave, but time was ticking. We had to meet at my brother’s house for Easter lunch 45 minutes later. After dominating the buffet line—and when I say dominating, I mean DOMINATING—the adults loosened their belts and plopped down on the family room couches while the kids ran rampant in the basement.
Now our family has a tradition to at least do an Easter egg hunt, play some games, or at least interact with the kids. Not this Easter. My sister-in-law played on her phone. My brother closed his eyes. My wife updated her Facebook page. I talked a little basketball with my Dad, licking our wounds from our Jayhawks Final Four shellacking at the hands of eventual National Champion Villanova. The kids occasionally would run in asking when the egg hunt was taking place. The adults slouched even more into the comfort of our couches.
We looked outside. An icy rain painted the grass with a thin blanket of white snow. There was NO way we were going outside for an egg hunt. It was the best April Fool’s joke ever. But what about inside? My Mom had the eggs ready to go stuffed with coins and dollar bills. Why not in the basement? We stared at each other. My brother jostled awake from his snooze. My wife posted her last update on Facebook. My sister-in-law finished watching the last YouTube video of cats being scared of cucumbers. (How many of you are hopping on YouTube to see it now? Be honest! I will save you the time. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNycdfFEgBc).
“Daddy, when is the egg hunt?!?!” my seven-year-old blurted out in a single breath.
How do they always have so much energy? I looked at my Mom, deflecting the question to her.
“Why don’t you ask Memaw?”
All eyes turned to my Mom. The couches were too comfy. The weather was too frigid. It was nap time. The lone sound came from the ice pellets gently pelting the rooftops and windows. Finally, my Mom made the final decision.
“How about we do our egg hunt the next time we are all together and have good weather?”
Done deal. Thank the Lord! More time to just veg. Be at one with the couch. Grab that SO not needed slice of bunt cake. Loosen the belt one more notch. More time to do nothing. As beautiful as it felt, something was lacking there. A passion was missing. Boredom robbed the last half of our Easter. Before I knew it, it was time to head home, feed the dog, and hit the sack early. My wife and I played paper-rock-scissors to see who got to do bedtime. I lost. Sorry, boys. Only one story tonight. Daddy is too sleepy.
I stumbled my way through reading a half chapter of Matilda to them before I shut the book and told them to go to bed. I even forgot to kiss them goodnight. Exhaustion got the best of me. Reflecting on the last half of Easter the following morning in my quiet time, I began to wonder if others felt the same way. Especially at work. With fourth quarter upon us, fatigue is more than likely setting in. We go through the motions. We forget to savor the time we have left with our students. Before we know it, the 2017-2018 school year will culminate, and every opportunity to make a difference with these kiddos will vanish. Poof! Into the air. Like a vapor.
Some teachers begin to count down the days to summer right now. I propose a new idea. I propose we count down the days left to make a difference. Teach a life lesson or two that will stick to these kids like peanut butter. Joke with them. Make them laugh. Intentionalize your lessons. Try something new. Something fun. Prepare them for the next level. Talk to them. Get to know them even more. Let them know you care. Help them with their problems. Connect curriculum to real life. Write them goodbye notes. Make them feel special. Make use of every second you have left in the classroom.
Yeah, it might take an extra cup of coffee or two. Or three. It might send you plummeting into your bed at night with exhaustion. But it would be worth it! I don’t know about you, but I would rather hit the sack like that than plop on my bed with so much energy left unused. Stop going through the motions. Savor the time! Live life to the fullest, and finish this race strong. Put your stamp on this school year so much that your students will miss you as much as you miss them. Make them flock into your classroom next fall just to say hi. That is when you know you have done your job right.
The clock is ticking. Less than one quarter left. How are you going to finish? The ball is in your hands.
Challenge: How will you put your stamp on the 2017-2018 school year? What memorable activities will you leave your students with? What life lessons still need to be instilled in your students? Journal or talk about these questions with a trusted Christian friend.
Song application: “The Motions” by Matthew West
I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?
Video application: Need a little motivational talk to get you moving? This guy did it for me. He shared some amazing facts and put a positive perspective on living life to the fullest.
Quote: “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” (William Wallace, Braveheart)
Bible story: One man managed his time on earth better than anyone in history: Jesus Christ. Think about it. His ministry did not even start until He was in His 30’s, He died at 33, and His legacy is hands down the most important in the history of mankind. Read through the Gospel of John to get to know Him better. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Try a chapter a day. You would finish in 21 days, and you would gain a better understanding of the ultimate manager of time.
Prayer: Lord, bless the time I have left with my students. Let me not take them for granted. Give me intentional moments to leave a lasting impression on them that will guide them to their next stage of life. Amen.
(Special thanks to my dear friend and colleague Jennifer for inspiring this blog post. I challenge you all to share this important message with a colleague of your own that needs to hear it.)