Core scripture: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” (Proverbs 3:27)
Message: He was the type of kid that might slide under the radar a bit. Quiet. Thoughtful. Reflective. You could see his brain was humming, yet he rarely spoke. Arriving a few weeks after school started, he would get lost in the hallways. The kids were polite to him, but few friendships blossomed. He always had a sheet of paper out, sketching and doodling. One day I walked by his desk.
“You are quite the talented artist!” I commented.
His eyes met mine. “Thanks.”
It wasn’t much, but I showed him that I noticed him. On his next assignment that he turned in, I wrote him an encouraging note at the top of his page. I am so glad you are in my class! Keep it up! A connection was beginning to bake within him. He began to stay around after class and tell me about his day. The floodgates did not open until a few weeks ago when we were discussing bullying.
After a meaningful discussion with his class, I sat down at my computer and noticed an e-mail from him. I clicked on it to see a full paragraph—complete with powerful imagery and popping word choice—that described the nightmare 5th grade bullying experience he endured. The kid poured himself out to me. It was as if he was finally able to expose his innermost feelings.
It was not necessarily a cry for help. He just wanted to open up. I waved him up to my desk at the end of the day as the final bell rang.
“That was quite the story you wrote me in your e-mail,” I began.
He ducked his head, slightly embarrassed yet still appreciative. Standing by my desk, he emptied himself of all the junk inside him. It was cathartic for him. Cleansing. The kid willingly missed his bus just to talk to me. Since that day, he has given his full heart to my class. He raises his hand for discussion. He smiles more. He is beginning to make friends. The investment I put into him is paying off.
Jesus changed our world by taking the ordinary and making them extraordinary. His disciples were not known for being the cream of the crop. They were fishermen. Tax collectors. Outsiders of their society. We have those same types of students all around us, yet there are times we fail to notice them. They slip through the cracks.
Who is that kid for you? Which kid is lost in their own world, just waiting for a caring Christian teacher to show them the love of Christ? Find these children. Let them know they are noticed. Write them an encouraging note. Praise them. Even the smallest compliment could mean the world to them. “Hey, I love your shirt!” Or even, “Thanks for pushing in your chair.” You never know who needs to hear this.
It could mean everything.
Challenge: Notice the unnoticeable in your classes. Start small with something simple like a compliment, and then build those relationships into something bigger with intentionality. The more you invest in your students, the more they will put into your class.
Related scripture: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Song application: “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give your love for humanity.
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see.
Just for fun: I love bringing in “guest speakers” from my back room to liven up a lesson. The kids know it is just me in a wig or some sort of a costume, but they enjoy it nonetheless. Many times they will try to expose me, but I have never been exposed better than the kid who said, “I know it is you, Mr. Daniels! I recognize your arm hair!” Touché.
Prayer: Lord, help me notice the unnoticeable. Let your love spill into all those around me. Amen.