Core scripture: “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Message: It was Monday. The Monday before Spring Break to be exact. I wasn’t really feeling it that day. The same pizazz that I might bring to the table was just dormant. I was beat, I wasn’t teaching that day, and I apathetically prepared to listen to about 40 speeches from my students. Oh joy!
My first class was rough. Not with behavior. More with lackluster performances in front of the class. The kids just didn’t seem to care. You could tell they just wanted to be on Spring Break and get the heck off the stage. It was a “get this over with” type of attitude.
When my next class fell right in line with the previous class, I began to get frustrated. I asked the kids if they were okay. They all just chuckled and shrugged. Meh. Just give us our grade and let us be on our way. It began to annoy me. And none of the kids were stepping up to set the tempo. I began to wonder. Was my dullness rubbing off on the kids?
“What’s going on with you guys?” I asked at the end of class. “Is it just that it’s Monday?”
Nobody really responded to my question. A few shrugs. A few dropped their heads, pursing their lips. Lots were just whispering to their friends. I decided to test my theory.
“Or is it me?” I asked sincerely. “Is my lack of energy rubbing off on you?”
One girl made direct eye contact with me, nodding her head. The bell rang. I snagged a Diet Coke from my mini fridge. Next hour I knew I had to fake it a bit and bring more flare. So, I faked it. I faked it hard the rest of the day, and the speeches got a little better.
I hit the sack early that night and prayed early that next morning. Lord, help me inspire the kids today! Let my energy be their energy. Flood my classroom with enthusiasm! It had to work. I even shared my enthusiasm experiment with a colleague and told her I would update her later.
I was juiced! Coffee flowed through my veins, as the bell rang for passing period. I clicked on the YouTube link for House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” My speakers blasted the up tempo, hype music. It was fire! I was high fiving kids as they came in, and I already knew it wasn’t going to be just a good day … it was going to be a GREAT ONE!
I brought it. All day long I brought every ounce of energy I had to inspire the kids. The undeniable power flooded my classroom, injecting passion to all. Sure enough, the speeches were night and day better from the day before. As if I even had to conduct this experiment!
The climax came 6th period when a spunky cheerleader took the floor for the last speech of the day. I warned the class they could not leave if the bell rang while she was still speaking. We were going to cut it close! I asked her if she wanted to go tomorrow, but the smile on her face said it all. It was now or never!
She took center stage as the clock wound down. The whole class knew she had to hit between two to three minutes in her speech. When the timer started, she took command of the room. So much so that it became deathly quiet. We were hanging on her every word. She moved about the room like a general firing up her army before battle.
The bell rang. Not a sole got up. She laughed and continued on, powering through the last 30 seconds of her speech. I stopped the timer and smiled. Multiple kids were shouting out, “Time? What was her time?” I raised the timer for all to see.
“Two minutes and 30 seconds!” I shouted.
The class erupted in jubilation! The cheerleader screamed, jumping into the arms of her best friend, and as for the rest of the class … WOW! They all celebrated! Nobody wanted to leave! I gave the girl a high five and sent her on her way, starting up House of Pain again for my last class.
I told the story a couple of times. Once to my 7th hour class and once again to my wife at home. They were happy but not stoked. Excited but not energized. I shook my head and admitted, “You had to be there.” Only those 6th hour students knew what I was attempting to describe.
My experiment worked. The speeches were so much better, and I apologized to that group that had to go on the first day. They forgave me pretty quickly. We all make mistakes, Mr. Daniels. It was an incredible reminder that if you bring the energy, your students will follow suit.
I know it aint easy. I know you might be a little burned out. Don’t let that deter you from giving your best! It is time to sprint to the finish. Pour that extra cup of coffee. Pick out your favorite pump-up song and let it fuel you. Bring it! Every day from now until the bell rings on the last day. Let that be your legacy your students remember you by!
Challenge: Some of the best performances come from people who are inspired by a good speech. Practice those pep talks. Inspire your students to greatness! Whatever it takes to get the juices flowing inside you, it is time to finish with a bang!
Coach Gaines speaks: This speech brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it. Coach Gary Gaines, played by Billy Bob Thornton, brings it in this iconic speech to his team.
Scripture study: Read Romans 10:14-15 below.
“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’”
Journal or discuss the following questions:
- How do you envision Paul saying these lines aloud?
- What effect do you think that had on the early church?
- What would our church be like today had Paul not brought his best every day?
- How does this scripture inspire you to live out the Great Commission?
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Praise God for Spring Break and the rest He gives us to prepare for the last lap!
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will be alive in you, providing freshness and endurance.
- Pray that your students can see that passion and emulate it in their performances.
Just for fun: Need a hilarious pep talk that might be even more iconic than the Friday Night Lights clip above? Look no further than Bluto’s speech in Animal House! My apologies for John Belushi’s colorful vocabulary at the beginning.
Prayer: Father, flood me with passion this last quarter. Let my energy be my students’ energy! May it sweep my classroom like a wildfire. Amen.
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