He Knows it Won’t be Easy
Teaching is hard! Every job worth doing is hard, though. Would you want to give 30-some years of your life to a job that could be mastered in the first week? If teaching is God’s purpose for you, don’t let it get easy. God won’t.
James 1:2-3 (NIV)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
At least we get to be joyful in knowing our challenges are what God thinks we need. That is how God prepares you for who He wants you to be. It should be encouraging to know through this growth with Him and for Him. If you’re not getting challenged in your classroom – if you’re taking the easy way out – you are not meeting your God-given purpose.
The lead pastor at the church I attend has spoken many times that becoming a Christian won’t make life easier. In fact, it may make things harder at times. In a powerful message, he taught that you are either going through a storm in life, coming out of one or entering one. I borrowed some of the principles he presented about surviving these storms and adapted them to the public-school classroom.
You have a better chance of making it through a storm intact if you are prepared. Think of the metaphor. What do you do to prepare around your home to get ready for a big storm? A lot of people react to the news of an approaching storm by mobbing the grocery stores for bottled water, canned food and batteries. Sometimes they get what they need to make it through, but sometimes it’s too late. The people with the best chance to survive a storm plan ahead of time and have everything they need in reserve. The storm will impact everyone, but those who planned ahead have more confidence they can make it through the tough times. Not all storms will be job-related, but we can prepare together for the ones that may be.
First, count each moment of every storm as a joy. Yes, you read that correctly. Our trials and tribulations should make you excited because that means the Holy Spirit is working inside you. If the enemy is attacking you, then God is preparing you for something else, something greater – something for His purpose!
During my tumultuous year teaching 4th grade, which looking back I can classify as a storm, I viewed all the problems that I was having as annoyances. Every tiff my students got into, every direction they didn’t follow, every student that asked for a pencil – it all got under my skin. I went home a complete wreck and sometimes released my anger by snapping at my wife. Little things at school got so difficult (like reading with a small group without constant interruptions) that little things at home also stressed me out. On top of all that, my wife was expecting our second daughter, Lydia, in the middle of the school year and that was such a big stress point because of all the unknowns that I turned what should have been a joyful time at home into a time of anxiety. I should have been focused on taking care of my wife and our 2-year old, Julia, but was so overwhelmed about preparing my students and classroom for an extended absence.
This was definitely an attack from the Devil. And I fell for it. I let him steal my joy away. What if I had counted that school year as a joy? What if I thought about how God was preparing me? Now that the school year is over and the storm has passed I can see the answer to these questions more clearly. I believe God was preparing me for future classes of students that He wants me to reach. He developed tools in me for what He intends to be a long career in urban education. And, I got the idea for this book!
I bet the teacher burn out rate would be a lot lower if young teachers, like myself, counted being tested in the classroom as a joy that was preparing them for what is to come. This makes sense if you think about the pain Jesus experienced on the cross. Our problems are so small in comparison but they still hurt. We still ask God to take away our storms. Jesus prayed fervently for a way around the cross, but God said no. He endured the cross for the joy that was to come. For us! For the glory it brought the Kingdom. God’s purpose is not to make you happy, or hurt you, but for you to bring Him glory!
The second thing that will help us prepare for storms is prayer. This one is more obvious, but a lot harder to do when in the midst of a storm. And that is exactly what the devil wants: to take away your prayers. We are more inclined to pray when we want something or to thank God for something. Usually, if you think about prayer at all during a storm it is a cry for help. That is a great place to start, but we need to go deeper. Remember how storms come into our lives to help us grow so God’s purpose in our lives can bring Him glory? Then that is exactly what we need to pray for! Pray for wisdom to show you how to respond to each storm in order to get the most from what you’re going through.
In Corinthians 10:13, Paul addresses the temptation faced by the church in Corinth to worship idols. He says God is faithful in a storm and will not allow temptation to be stronger than you can stand. The storm they were going through was one of temptation, but we can take from this verse that God won’t allow a storm to be more than you can handle. It goes on to say that God will show you a way out, so you can endure.
Pray for this! Ask God to do His work in you. Learn from the storm what God intended.
Finally, stay the course being joyful and prayerful and also remain faithful. Believe that God will get you through your storm for His glory.
It’s too easy to waiver during a storm. We bring ourselves a lot of temptation. This distancing from God is exactly what our enemy wants and thrives on. In a public school where Christ isn’t on most people’s minds, a storm can throw the ministry you have built in your classroom off course or even sink it completely. How many educators have you worked with who have gotten new jobs, switched positions or even left education because it was hard? Maybe conditions weren’t pleasant because God was sending them through a storm. As Christian educators, I believe we should always be looking out for the enemy trying to remove us from posts God put us in to do His work.
Insubordinate students, apathetic co-workers, rough school culture? That sounds like a perfect storm that would naturally make teachers get their resumes in order. Instead, consider staying right where you are, putting on a joyful outlook, praying and faithfully trusting that God put you where you are. Maybe your consistent presence can give those insubordinate students the love and attention they’ve been seeking their whole lives.
If you’re working for Jesus and keeping the faith at the toughest times of the year, your co-workers will take notice. The apathetic will wonder where your energy is coming from. Your faithfulness and good attitude may even be a conversation starter about who you’re working for.
Changing a negative school culture seems as hard as moving mountains, doesn’t it? Well, you’ve got the right God for that job! Never underestimate what your dedication and prayer life can accomplish.
No matter where your career takes you, or leaves you, we need to stay faithful.
Psalm 34:1-3 (NLT)
I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.
If a storm adds more responsibilities to your plate, praise God! You are being made stronger. Constantly speak His praise at the end of a long day when your voice is hoarse and you just want quiet time. Boast about what the Lord has done in your classroom after a successful test. Let all your students take heart that you care about them and love them like Jesus. Tell of the Lord’s greatness by your acts of service. Exalt His name after a school day well done.
James 1:12-13 (NLT)
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Taking the easy way out – checking out – is not an option for those seeking God’s blessing. In James 1:12, it says God blesses those who patiently endure. That means trying your best every day to do what’s right for the kids who you’ve been entrusted to educate and care for. Verse 13 goes on to say that the reward may not come immediately, or even in this life. It says afterward you will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. Internalize those verses to use in difficult situations. I plan on remembering them during those hot days at the end of the year when everyone is ready for summer. They’ll help me stay calm when a student does something I asked him not to do 20 times and responds with the classic “I didn’t do it!” And they’ll help me feel collected when I realize my plans for the week won’t work after Monday morning is a bust.
As I’ve mentioned already: Jesus won’t make your job easier. Being a Christian may actually increase your workload because of Jesus’ call for service and what he says to do while in a storm. But if you stay joyful during trying times, ask God to help you make the most out of it and most importantly stay the course with your faith during the storm, your reward will be eternal and you will have brought glory to His Kingdom.
Steps toward a Christ-Like Classroom:
- Count each moment of every storm as a joy.
- Pray for wisdom during a storm.
- Have Faith that God will see you through the storm.