Core scripture: “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)
Message: So, I had this idea a few weeks ago. My kids were wrapping up three grueling days of state testing in reading, and they needed a break. I wanted to show them a movie to reward them for their hard work and concentration. A few years earlier, my 5th hour class had suggested we watch a movie on YouTube called Cyberbully over lunch, and although the movie was very mature for their eyes, they greatly appreciated it. I thought to myself, why not give it another shot? So, we did.
Talk about your all-time backfires. Although the group a few years ago enjoyed the movie, this year’s group was different. They were not as mature and one class especially did not know how to react to the more serious scenes. So, they reacted with uneasy laughter, goofy comments, and just plain immaturity. It rubbed me the wrong way. Enough in fact that I had to hold them after class to condemn their behavior. I began to regret showing the movie.
I regretted it even more when I got wind that some of my students were not wanting to watch any more of it. Kids that were not ready for mature themes like online bullying, broken friendships, and suicide. My heart ached for them, and I had gotten them into this mess. On day two I allowed those who were not comfortable to leave the room with a para; however, only two were brave enough to take me up on the offer. I knew some had stayed simply because they did not want to stand out.
On a positive note, the kids were much more mature the second day. I think they got the message, but the damage was done. I began to wonder if any kids went home to discuss the movie with their parents. What would happen if a parent caught wind of the uneasiness I had caused and came at me? Sure enough, on that third day where we had about 10 minutes to finish in the movie, an e-mail appeared in my inbox asking me to call about the movie Cyberbully.
I was devastated. Quietly, humbly I emptied my heart out. I prayed at my desk, thanking God that I had a first hour plan period to get my heart right. God’s response was soothing yet convicting. I needed to humble myself. Admit my faults. Ask for forgiveness. And as I made that phone call, I felt the Holy Spirit working through me. Relief swept over me like a flood. Nothing bad happened. All was forgiven.
I did not stop there. I had to apologize to the kids. That day I asked all five of my classes for forgiveness and sent a parent e-mail out expressing my concern. Most of the classes wondered why I apologized in the first place. But I told them I had to. And I took it a step further, asking them the powerful question of who THEY needed to apologize to. What relationship needed mending in THEIR lives?
One of my students raised his hand and said, “Mr. Daniels, we ALL make mistakes!” Amen to that. He was seeing the bigger picture. And we continued that discussion about humility—even being humble and admitting a fault when you stubbornly believe you are right. Sometimes that is what others need to hear. Sometimes our pride can do more damage than good. Especially when it involves those we love and care for.
Fast forward to Friday afternoon … I relished every second God blessed me with my remote students in person. It was just a few of them who were finishing up state testing that I met for the first time in the hallway, but it was glorious. Most I recognized immediately—especially one young man who was walking down the hallway. A pained expression caught my eye.
“Mr. Daniels?” he asked delicately.
This kid had plagiarized two poems in my class the week before. Two! The first one I let him redo, and the second? Well, it stayed a zero. He tried to turn in a poem from Emerson. Just Google “A Nation’s Strength” and you will get a decent laugh. Yeah, any time a kid’s poem says “The foes that round it throng” it might be a red flag for plagiarism.
I instantly called out the boy’s name as he wrapped his arms around me. I threw COVID protocol aside and let him hug me. He couldn’t say a word. His actions showed it all. I never even mentioned the poems but instead praised him for raising his grade to a low A. Yep, he still had an A even with the zero in the gradebook.
“My dad wants to give me $200 if I get straight A’s,” he admitted to me. “I want to save up for a computer.”
Now it made sense!
“Well, you save up for that computer the right way, okay?” I said with a knowing look.
So, what about you? Which side are you on? If you are on the sinful side, never be shy to admit your fault. And if you are on the receiving side, never be shy to display the forgiveness that Christ calls us to show (Ephesians 4:32).
After all, we ALL make mistakes.
Challenge: Where are you prideful in your life? Who do you need to ask forgiveness from? Whether you think you are right or not, turn your heart to the Lord and let Him mold it to be more humble and grateful.
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Praise God that He took a seemingly awful situation for me and turned it into good.
- Pray that our pride can be wiped away by sincere humility.
- Pray that we can all work together to finish the year strong!
Just for fun: More amazingness from my son’s soccer team, the Pickle Potatoes. Apparently the parents are getting in on the name now. One of the dads created this amazing picture below and sent it to me. Should I turn this into a T-shirt or what!?!? By the way, the Pickle Potatoes are now 3-1 and in 2nd place in our league. Not to brag.
Prayer: Father, forgive me when my selfish pride causes me to push humility aside. Let me model humility and modesty for others to follow. Amen.