Helping the Helpless

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Core scripture“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

Message: Pop quiz, hot shot.  You have that 20 to 25 minutes of work time with your class.  Although many students are busy working on their projects, you can tell a couple of them are SO not feeling it.  Lack of motivation.  Apathy.  Maybe they are already on summer break mentally, dreaming of the pool and lethargically sleeping in till noon.  Here comes the curve ball … each of these struggling learners is not disturbing anyone.  One is reading quietly.  One is watching Liza Koshy on YouTube.  Another is just starring off into space.  (They see something you don’t see apparently!)  Your inbox is clogged with e-mails, you have some grading to crank out, and you REALLY wanted to finish planning that incredible lesson for the next day.  What do you do?

That is a hard one!  The final month of school sure provides extra craziness.  You got the angel on one shoulder telling you to motivate those kiddos; the devil is on the other side tempting you with extra work.  And all the while Jesus is lovingly looking over your shoulder, whispering for you to make the right choice.  After all, that is what He was all about.  Helping others.  The rich.  The blind.  The lame.  Men.  Women.  Children.  Everyone!  Read the gospels and you’ll see it time and time again.  Even when His body ached for rest and His heart was broken, Jesus STILL perfected the art of healing others.  God’s Holy Spirit, like an adrenaline afire, kept His flame burning bright for all to see.

Guess what?  That flame—that eternal, never-ending flame—it is still alive today!  It resides in the hearts of all who believe.  That flame can help the Christian teacher make the right choices.  We can likewise distinguish the flame every time temptation creeps up.  The choice is ours.  I am not sure about you, but I want my flame burning bright.  This is it, people.  The final impressions we will leave on our students are upon us.  What is the Holy Spirit telling us to do?  How can we help the helpless?  Should we ever give up the fight if the kid doesn’t meet you halfway?  Jesus never gave up.  Nor should we.  Here are some ideas on how the Christian teacher can reach out.

  1. Pray every morning you step in your room before the chaos of the day.  Pray quietly in your head before you approach a struggling learner.  Pray over their pictures in your gradebook.  “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  2. Make a phone call or two. E-mail works too, but a personal message to a parent means so much more.  Express the potential you see in their child.  Thank them for their help from home.  Make the message as positive and hopeful as possible.
  3. Write a note of encouragement. Paul charges us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  Showing belief in our students infuses them with hope!
  4. Cut them a break. Excuse them from a small assignment to bump them up a percent or two.  Offer an extra credit assignment.  I am making an offer to every kid with an F to write a one-page reflection over what they learned in my class, allowing them to pass with a D minus minimum.  That grace is what our faith is all about!
  5. Offer your time. No, you cannot MAKE them come in for help, but let your students know your door is always open.  Call them down in study hall.  Refuse to spoon feed them, but guide them to success.  That perseverance will pay off in the end.
  6. Praise even the smallest improvements. Your kid goes from a 17 percent to a 35 percent?  Praise him!  He gets one of five missing assignments done.  Praise him!  That encouragement will help the child up the next rung of the ladder.  And with each word of inspiration, praise Him too!  “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15).
  7. Sing a song to them! Just to make them smile and laugh a little.  Especially if singing is not your forte.  I highly recommend Danny Gokey’s “The Comeback.”  Me trying to hit those high notes might butcher the perfection of the song, but that kid is sure to smile.  Here is the link to it so you can practice:

Jesus is there.  In your heart.  In your head.  Let Him take control today.  He took down Satan in the desert with His mighty sword of scripture, and the devil had no answer.  He ran away like the coward he is.  Let that scripture, especially the verse at the top, saturate your heart today.  Recite it slowly.  Meditate on it.  “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Refuse to give up on these kids.  Do good today!

Challenge: Write down a list of all your students that have D’s and F’s.  Reach out to these kids not out of obligation but out of the goodness in your heart.  Print grade reports.  Make phone calls.  Offer any extra time you have to assist them.  Hold them accountable.  Praise any successes, even if they went from a 23 percent to a 49 percent.  Refuse to let them sink without trying to lend a helping hand.

Song application: “Comeback” by Danny Gokey

After a season of night falls and push backs
After the heartache of wrong turns and sidetracks
Just when they think they’ve got you game set match
Here comes the comeback
Just cause you lay low got up slow unsteady
Don’t mean you blacked out or bought out you’re ready
Just when they think there’s nothing left running on empty
Here comes the comeback

This is your time your moment
The fire the fight your golden
You’ve come so far keep going
Oh here comes the comeback

You feel the lightning the thunder you’re soul shakes
Under the roar of the heaven the tide breaks
And from the ashes you will take your place
Here comes the comeback

This is your time your moment
The fire the fight you’re golden
You’ve come so far keep going
Oh here comes the comeback

Cinema application: For an inspiring true story, watch the movie Freedom Writers.  This is not a Christian movie; however, it is still a powerful reminder about how a single teacher can make a difference with struggling learners.

Journal/Accountability: Write or talk to a trusted Christian friend about the most powerful ways you can help needy students.

Quote: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Bible story: Read the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 in Matthew 14:1-21.  What news had Jesus just received about his cousin John before this miracle?  How would your heart be if you were in Jesus’ shoes?  What was Jesus trying to do when the crowd followed Him to a remote place?  How did He respond?  How would you have reacted if you witnessed this miracle?

Prayer: Father, may we not give up on our struggling learners.  Give us endurance and patience to help those in need.  May we crush temptation with your Word.  Amen.

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