As 2019 begins I am thinking about my goals for this year, but something is off. I have made a habit of goal setting for the past several years, but something is different this year. I thin I have figured out what is different though. I am halfway through my second year teaching at Hamilton County High School, and God has used this to reshape my heart. You see, before being a school teacher, I was a full time student pastor for 17 years. I want you to understand I loved and cared about my students I have had in my ministry over those years, but when you only see them a church setting, it is easy to see them in a Christian bubble. What I mean by this is we try hard to make church and youth ministry a safe place for kids to go, and it should be that, but outside that bubble life is very different for many of our students. Everyday I walk into the halls at the school and my heart breaks. I think there are 3 ways teachers look at kids, the first is just names and numbers, I wish this one didn’t exist, but I have had teachers and seen teachers with this outlook. They do their job and collect their paycheck. Pass or fail, good life or bad life doesn’t really matter. Many times they don’t bother to even get to know the student enough to know who they are. I believe this is the minority of teachers, but know they exist. The second outlook is one that is easy to fall into, and it’s not that bad, but it is not the best. This is the project teacher. Teachers who see students as a project for them to improve. I know that doesn’t sound bad, but the problem comes with the motivation behind the attitude. Many times it is about the teacher and how they feel about themselves. It makes them feel better and gives them a sense of purpose, but the trouble with that is when you feel the project is complete or the best it is going to get, then you move on to the next project, and usually the student regresses to where they were or worse, and they learn not to trust the intentions of the teacher. The last outlook is the hardest, and that is not because the work is hard, but because the burden is heavy. You see just because I leave school doesn’t mean I can turn the job off. I know I can’t get to know and be involved in every students’ life, but I can care about them. I pray every day for each of my students. I try to go to every extra curricular I can to support my students. I hurt when they hurt. As I am writing this, I wonder if all this sound ridiculous, and I know as a second year teacher I have so much more to learn, but so many students just need to know that someone cares about them, not just how they do on a test or about the grades they make, it them as an individual. I try to encourage and even give unsolicited advice to help them make good choices for their lives. I want so bad to know that high school doesn’t have to be the best their life gets, and that they can be better that what they see around them. They aren’t my project and it would be so much easier to just pick a few that I think I can help because they want help. I am okay with being rejected because it is not about me, and that is the hard part. I am a people pleaser, but in order for me to make a real impact, I have to be willing to get hurt. Ugh I do not even know how to end this. I guess it boils down to this. What I want to accomplish in 2019 better than I ever have is this.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
Even tonight there are some students that my heart hurts for; students that keep me up at night because I want them to see and know that I care about them and I am willing to help however I can. I wish I was rich and had a huge house because I would want to take all who need it a loving home. My prayer is for them to not see me, but to see God and feel His love through me or somebody else.
Sorry for a rambling and long post; sometime I don’t have the vocabulary or the concise thoughts to put on paper what my heart is screaming.