Core scripture: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Message: Have you ever had someone steal your day? I sure have. Everything is going fine. You are firing on all cylinders, and suddenly a pessimistic attitude is thrust at you. You come across someone who just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Your perfectly beautiful day is swiftly swallowed up by negativity.
You try to cling to goodness, yet suddenly goodness has all but disintegrated. Your heart is now heavy. You begin to pout. That seemingly joyous day you had just minutes ago? All for nothing. The only thing you see now is the bad. And all you can do is wonder … where did my day go wrong? How did my day get stolen?
It could be a frustrated student. Or a group of grouchy colleagues in the lounge. Or even a spouse who has had a long day. Maybe it is a disgruntled parent on the other end of the phone or a stranger that cuts you off in traffic on the drive home. How can we respond to these situations in a Christlike manner? Let’s break down a hypothetical situation piece by piece.
It is the middle of your day. You have just enjoyed a pleasant lunch, and your 5th hour class returns from the cafeteria. Three girls are two and a half minutes late coming back. You have already started the lesson up, and they barge into your room, laughing and loudly disrupting. You redirect them to their seats, giving them all tardies, which prompts the ringleader of the three to shut down on you.
She shoots you an icy glare, crosses her arms, and purposefully tries to get her friends’ attention. The rest of the class period, she is laughing with them behind your back and outright denying anything ever went wrong every time you stop the lesson. You catch her winking at her friends, and the rest of the class starts laughing. They are enjoying the spectacle, but you are beginning to boil with frustration and anger.
Man, this hypothetical situation sounds all too real to me! What do I do? How can I keep my composure and model Christ to the classroom? What would Jesus do if He were in my shoes? What scripture should I have in my heart to fight off the flaming arrows being shot at me?
- Don’t let anger get the best of you. Take a deep breath if you need to. You can have authority in your voice, yet do so out of love. Proverbs 14:29 says, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” I recommend crouching next to the kid’s desk, talking in a controlled yet firm tone.
- Express empathy. Empathy shows that you understand. It shows kindness. It softens the accuser and allows them to cool down as well. Paul has an incredible reminder of this in Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Powerful words!
- Redirect privately. For a middle schooler to be called out in front of their friends? Not good. Take the kid aside after class. Step into a private area where you can talk one on one, still keeping an eye on the room. This is spoken clearly in Matthew 18:15 when it says, “go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.”
- Always follow up the next day. Greet them warmly as they enter your class. Be positive. Compliment them. Tell them that today is going to be better. Let them know that yesterday is forgiven. It is a wonderful way to allow them to experience God’s grace.
- Focus on the good. As Paul states in Philippians 4:8, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” A glass half full perspective will not allow your heart to have its day stolen!
It is our choice as Christians to keep our day. Today is YOUR day! Refuse to have it be stolen by a mischievous middle school boy or a disgruntled colleague. You cannot control others, but you can control yourself. And if your day happens to be stolen, take it right back. You own your day!
Challenge: Make a conscious effort to count your blessings. Praise God for them. Journal about them. Express gratitude toward others. The more you build others up, the less likely your day will be stolen from you.
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Pray that you will take ownership of your day, putting on God’s armor for protection.
- Praise God for the opportunity to be different and model Christ to others.
Video application: I love the video about empathy below. It is a wonderful reminder to seek out the reason in a loving way about why someone is acting out.
Just for fun: As we were wrapping up our Giving Back presentations last week, one of my quieter boys took center stage. He finished his presentation by saying, “Don’t be sad because sad spelled backwards is das, and das not good.”
Prayer: Father, guard my heart from the enemy. Stand up for me and control me, allowing Christ to rule my heart. Amen.