Core scripture: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
Message: You never know what is going to happen in one of my higher maintenance classes. Every day it is something new, and last Friday was no exception. Two gentlemen tried relentlessly to get under my skin.
Enter boy number one …
This guy shines academically but struggles in showing good character. He had finished his poetry assignment midway through the hour and felt that he now had the right to do whatever he wanted. So, he chatted it up with his buddies. He was already reeling from not winning the King of the Week award that he thought he deserved, and I called him out for talking.
He shot me one of those but-I-didn’t-do-anything looks, eyes opened wide, jaw dropped in shock, and arms extended. My response was not so Christlike. I mocked him. I mimicked his expression and started pointing fingers at others. Not my finest moment. His buddies laughed, and he shot me an icy glare that could have turned Medusa to stone.
Meanwhile, boy number two was up to his usual mischievous self. This kid prides himself in being the bad boy. I got wind that he was writing a rhyming rap/poem about me that he wanted to perform in front of the class, and he was upset that I told him he could not perform it. He used that as fuel to distract others and misbehave the entire hour.
By the time the bell rang and the class cleared out, I knew I had two young men that I wanted to help. One I had embarrassed in front of his friends, and one was still sore that I was not allowing him free speech. I went to the Lord in prayer, and His response was crystal clear. Reach out to them in love. Forgive them. Be kind. Be humble. Be Christ.
I grabbed two postcards from my desk drawer and began writing notes to both boys. To that first boy, I praised him for always keeping an A in my class and apologized for mocking him in front of his friends. I encouraged him to keep trying to lead in the right ways. And to the other young man, I praised him for his rhyming skills and encouraged him to write another more appropriate poem to share with the class in our Poetry Smackdown.
I found the first boy later that morning. I waved him over as he walked into the classroom right next to mine and pulled him aside. He probably thought I was going to discipline him from his shenanigans earlier in the day, but I immediately apologized to him instead, giving him a bro hug. He readily accepted my apology and bounced back to his class with the note in hand.
I caught boy number two the next hour. This kid was not as easy as the first. His eyes showed complete indifference as I explained why he couldn’t perform his rap song all over again, but I praised him. I praised him for his rhyming skills, and I encouraged him to write a new more appropriate poem for the class. I even told him I would help him write it the next class period.
His eyes widened just a tad as I stared into them, and a smile curled on the edges of his mouth. I handed him his note and let him go back to his class.
I wish I could tell you that both boys were changed forever after that moment of humility, but that is not necessarily the case. This is not a fairy tale. After the weekend, they were both back to their typical selves on Monday. Boy number two even pushed me so far to give him a detention. But the seeds of kindness were still planted.
You never know when those seeds will sprout. It might be years down the road when it clicks for them. Paul says, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). What a powerful, encouraging thought!
Cast those seeds broadly. Some may not sprout, but God will take some of those seeds and allow them to bear delicious fruit. I remember a young man I used to teach over 10 years ago who was quite the stinker in my class. Nonetheless, I continually tried showing love to him when it might have been easier to be upset with him.
That same boy called me a couple years ago. He was now in college, and he was studying to be a teacher. I nearly wept as he apologized for the way he treated me and thanked me for teaching him the character that made him the man he was that day. I never saw that boy, but I know he was changed.
Challenge: Put today’s core scripture in your heart. Memorize it. Write it on a sticky note and place it on your desk. Allow those words to influence the way you conduct your class this week.
Scripture study: Read the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-23. Reflect on the areas the seeds land, and pray that your seeds you scatter will turn into fruit.
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Praise God for the opportunities He gives us to be Christ to our students when they need it most.
- Pray that God will allow the seeds you scatter to fall on good soil, bearing fruit for His glory.
Just for fun: I got some Christmas candy for my classes later this week, including a sack of 40 Dum Dums. I chuckle at the thought of giving them Dum Dums. Maybe I should have gotten them Smarties. Oh well!
Prayer: Father, help me continue scattering seeds of kindness, love, and compassion toward my students. Take those seeds and work them for Your good. Amen.
I just love reading your blog every day! Thank you for your encouragement and stories- you are also planting seeds in my life!
Allison, thank you so much for the kind words! I need to hear that at times, and I wish more would reply back to my posts. Thank you for taking an active role in reading my blog. Please let me know if you have any topics you would like me to cover. I am always open to new ideas! Email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be fun to connect more with you and others! In the meantime, I hope your spring semester is off to a great start.