Core scripture: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Message: Auntie Em, Auntie Em! It’s a twister! It’s a twister! It is official. We have hit tornado season here in Kansas. Good old room 135 might be the safest place in the building considering I reside smack dab in the middle. You might think you are immune to tornadoes if you are not from Kansas like me. But, oh, my friend, you are wrong. Dead wrong. A different type of tornado is beginning through schools, and the Christian teacher has the power to diffuse it.
I must give credit where credit is due. Today’s blog is brought to you by a staff development book our school is reading: Top 20 Teachers. I have referred to Tom Cody, one of the authors, in my “Stay Above the Line” blog posted earlier this year. Cody, who we had the pleasure of hearing speak twice, defines a social Tornado as a “powerful negative energy that pulls all involved father and farther below the line.”
The essential questions remain … How do we avoid these negative vibes? Better yet, how can we twist these scenarios toward the positive? Here is some advice from Cody, complimented with God’s Word.
First and foremost, you have a choice who you hang out with at school. Some people just bring you down. You hear it all from them. Disruptive students. Too much grading. Unneeded meetings. Spring Break wasn’t enough time off. It gets old. Guess what? You don’t need to invest your time in these people. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that “Bad company corrupts good character.” I tend to feel free to complain myself when I am with these people, so I try to steer myself clear.
But what if you cannot avoid them? What if they are on your team, grade level, or in the classroom next door? Cody recommends two quick and easy steps. One, acknowledge their complaints. Say something like, “Okay” or “I hear you.” This way they know you are listening but you do not jump on the complaint train. James 1:19 states that “every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Another complaint would just add gasoline to the fire!
Step two is a bit more difficult. Especially when you are tempted to agree with their complaint. That is when you can twist a negative into a positive. Let’s say the complaint is about an unruly student. After acknowledging the complaint, say something like, “That must have been hard to deal with, and I have some of the same struggles, but you wouldn’t believe his assignment he turned in last week. It was outstanding!” They played their card. You played yours.
David prays, “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). What a wonderful verse to put in your heart and recite before we teach each day! If we are to live up to Philippians 2:14 and “Do all things without grumbling or disputing,” we must guard our mouths. I challenge you … be positive! Think about the good things in your day. When a Tornado is spotted, God gives you the power to combat it. Listen to His voice:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Challenge: Diffuse a tornado this week. Twist a negative into a positive during a conversation with a colleague or a student. Who knows? It might enlighten them to a different perspective, a perception that shows them who you are and what you stand for.
Prayer: Lord, as 4th quarter begins, fill me with Your awe-inspiring Holy Spirit. Rid me of complaints, and fuel me with positivity. Amen.