Core scripture: “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13)
Message: It has been going on for weeks. The snickering. The giggling. She will point to her device, and he will chuckle. He will whisper to her, and she will whisper back. Multiple warnings have been issued to them. A bunch of empty threats. They have been calling my bluff. The girl is smart as a whip, but the boy? He needs a place where he can focus.
After yet another incident yesterday, right near the end of the hour, I declared a seat switch would be coming the next day. Wouldn’t you know it? The girl actually e-mailed me, pleading for me to understand that I had been mistaken. My soul now wrestles with the end all question: Do I give her one last chance and display grace, or do I crack the whip and do what’s best?
It all boils down to my desire to be liked. I hate that. I have this craving for others to like me, especially my students and my boys at home. Because of that mentality, I reside on the side of grace all too often. I let these little ones run the show. I allow their displeasure to suck me into making the popular choice, and guess what?
The popular choice is not always the best choice.
Jesus knew persecution would come to His disciples before He sent them out. He spoke plainly to them, promising persecution, saying, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). Jesus knew it was not time to waffle back and forth between what was popular and what was the right thing to do. It was time to take a stance! It was time to stand firm.
The floodgates are opening as I ponder unpopular choices I will be making over the next few days. I told my son he lost his screen time last night for not following directions. Can I stand firm through his temper tantrum tonight? Oh, you know it is coming! What about a certain class that I have later in the day that has taken full advantage of my allowance of snacks? The crinkling wrappers and numerous trips to the trashcan have become a cancer of disruption.
Let’s park on that snacks in the class thing. I honestly don’t see a problem with it if kids can handle it, but that class I mentioned above? They just can’t handle it. They toss food to each other. They sometimes fight over who gets what. And the classroom floor is continually littered with orange peels and wrappers. What is a teacher to do? Like one of my favorite 80’s songs, crack that whip!
There will be a rebellion when I announce the no snack rule today. Oh, they are going to hate me. But as my wonderful wife always reminds me, Clint, you are the adult! Paul’s words in Galatians 1:10 remind me, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
I am most certainly a pleaser; I have a hunger to be liked. But guess what? People are not always going to agree with my decisions. As a matter of fact, they will hate me. I can already picture the reaction of my class this afternoon, shaming my judgment and shaking their fists in anger. Oh, that teenage attitude will be in full effect! But the Word tells me to stay strong. And believe me, I will.
What is it for you? Maybe it is two friends sitting next to each other that need to be separated. Maybe it is a kid you have allowed to be tardy to your class without punishment. Maybe it is telling the truth to a student who is hanging out with bad influences. Christian teachers, my advice to you is the same advice I give to myself …
My boys attend Trail Life on Tuesday nights. It is a Christian version of Boy Scouts, rooted in scripture, and our troop motto is 1 Corinthians 16:13 which boldly states, “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.” All that is great! It makes me want to put the Army drill sergeant hat on! But be careful because after you puff your chest out, verse 14 blows your mind …
“And do everything with love.”
That is the part that kids will not understand. Sometimes discipline is love. And the tone of my voice should be loving and calm when I make that announcement today. I will guard myself with a quick whispered prayer, and I will stand firm in my choice. Rotten tomatoes may be tossed in my general direction, but guess what? The Lord will see me, and He will be pleased.
That, my friends, is what matters most.
Challenge: Quite the convicting thoughts above, aren’t they? Maybe you’re not a pushover like me, but I think we all struggle with this in one way or another. What is your area? Write it down. Journal about it. Talk about it with a Christian colleague. Pray about it. Rehearse your speech like I am now, and bring the truth in a loving way. You may not please your students, but you will please someone else looking down on you from above.
Other scripture: Reflect and meditate over the verses below:
- “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
- “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24)
- “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Pray that your decisions in the classroom will be rooted in pleasing the Lord, not man.
- Praise God for the opportunities He gives you to display your Christian faith.
- Pray that discipline can be expressed in a loving way by Christian teachers everywhere.
Just for fun: I ate lunch in the cafeteria recently just to mix things up. One of my goofball 7th grade boys announced, “Hey, Mr. Daniels? Wanna bet I can stuff this entire banana in my mouth?” Shaking my head, I said, “Why do I get the feeling I am going to find out the answer to that question right now?” Surely enough, he succeeded!
Prayer: Lord, I realize that not all of my decisions will be popular in the world. Help me stand firm in the faith I hold true to my heart. Amen.