Core scripture: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
Message: I dreaded the moment. Playing the bad guy is just not my thing, but I had to. This girl had been told to get ALL her makeup work completed before leaving ISS, and she had somehow talked her way out without doing a lick of work for my class. I knocked on the door to her 4th hour class and called her into the hallway. This was not going to be pretty.
“We need to talk about your makeup work,” I began.
“Why?” she retorted. This girl was only in 7th grade, yet her tone was that of a snarky 16-year-old.
“You still have work to do in Language Arts, and the deal was that you had to finish all of your work to go back to class.”
“But I DID!” she fired back.
Deep breaths. Calm yourself down. “You are caught up in your other classes, but you still need to finish your work in my class.”
“But I don’t have it!”
I was ready for this one. She knew perfectly well she could get her work from her iPad, but I went ahead and made hard copies of everything.
“Well, I have all your work,” I said. “It is waiting for you in ISS.”
She stared off into space, mouth slightly agape, a look of disgust painted on her face. Anger began to bubble inside me.
“Look at me,” I pleaded. “I am trying to help you. Whether you know this or not, I actually care about you.”
Nothing. She continued staring off at the wall in rebellion. I tried moving myself into her line of vision only to see her whip her head the opposite direction. It was then that one of her classmates walked by on the other side of the hallway. She greeted him with a smile, calling his name and looking him in the eye.
Oh, no she didn’t! Nuh-uh! I was nearing my breaking point. My flesh screamed to retaliate back with a vengeance of words that would put her in her place. But I couldn’t. A scripture I had put in my heart a long time ago rose to control my emotions: “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). I let the Holy Spirit take over.
“I can understand how you are frustrated. I know this is not easy for you, but you can do it. You are such a smart girl, and you will not get to attend the sorting ceremony this afternoon until you have a passing grade.”
She softened her expression a bit, knowing it was futile to fight anymore. We parted ways, and she returned to ISS. I prayed for her as I walked back to my classroom. Guard her, Lord. Help her. Fight for her and allow her spirits to be uplifted. Amen.
Fast forward a few hours later. The gymnasium was alive with excitement. Our students were being sorted Harry Potter style into one of the four houses we had set up for them. As I took turns calling each student down individually to get their house, our assistant principal approached me.
“She did all her work,” he smiled, handing the papers to me.
I looked her work over. They were legit. Every one completed to perfection. It raised her grade almost 20 percent.
You should have seen her face when her name was called. She bounded off the bleachers, her face lit up with exhilaration. I gave her a high five, and smiled at her.
“I am proud of you. You earned this!
Fifteen seconds later, she drew my house from the cougar cauldron. I guess it was meant to be. That afternoon she smiled with her friends, enjoying every second of the festivities.
The amazing thing, however, is what spilled into this week. That same girl who fought tooth and nail to not do her work wrote a loving, heartfelt Thanksgiving thank you letter to another teacher. Not only that, but one of her friends wrote her a beautiful note that uplifted her spirits even more.
The lesson I learned was priceless. Yes, sometimes you do have to play the bad guy, but you can still play the bad guy without allowing anger to control you.
Challenge: Memorize a scripture that you can pull out to help you through a weak area. Whether it is anger, frustration, greed, or selfishness, tuck that verse in your heart, and pull it out when needed.
Just for fun: Celebrate Thanksgiving with the Skit Guys on the link below.
Prayer: Lord, give me patience with my students this time of year. Allow my words to speak life into them, flushing out anger and bitterness. Amen.