Adventure Specialists' Advice

March 3, 2017

What You Do Matters: A Word of Encouragement for Teachers


Piles of grading. Irate parents. Disrespectful, disinterested students. Constant testing and unreasonable requirements. These, and many more things, conspire against teachers and try to bring us down. To discourage us. To make us wonder if we are wasting our time.

And today I want to offer you a small word of encouragement. – You are NOT wasting your time. What you’re doing DOES matter. Your labor is not in vain.

Teacher, Your Work Matters

I was going to tell you that there are students in your class who will look back on this year and be thankful for your influence. They may even be the one causing you the most trouble.

I was going to remind you that growth takes time and tell you that the seeds you are planting in young hearts and minds will grow and bring forth fruit, even if you might not see it yet.

I was going to tell you that you are making a difference. That there are students who care. Who are grateful. Who are learning. Who are growing. Even if they never tell you.

I was going to tell you all of this until I realized that all of these things pale in comparison to one very important fact.

God sees your effort, your work, your labor. And He is the only one that truly matters.

God sees the long hours and the shed tears. He knows your biggest frustrations and your deepest hurts.

He doesn’t overlook you. And He doesn’t take you for granted.

We put so much thought & effort into doing our best for our students. Into being the best teacher we can for their sake. And while we should emphasize the kids’ needs above our own, there is someone else that we should be serving above all else: our God.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:23-24)

This powerful verse reminds us that we are working for an audience of one: our Lord Jesus Christ.

When no one else seems to notice, He sees.

When no one else seems to care, He cares.

When our words seem to be falling flat, He sees our effort and is pleased with our faithfulness.

If we’re doing it all for Him.

So today, in the midst of the busyness, the frustration, the chaos – take a moment and remember the real reason that you are teaching. It shouldn’t be for the praise. It shouldn’t be for the satisfaction. It shouldn’t even be for the kids.

The real reason we are teaching should be for God.

And if we keep our focus on Him, it doesn’t matter as much what’s happening around us.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (I Cor. 15:58)

So don’t give up. Don’t quit.

Be encouraged in the Lord. Find the help you need.

And keep making a difference.

Important Dates

March 6: No School

March 7: DJHS (Chapel Schedule with A block in the morning and assembly at 2:30)

March 7: PD Meeting, 4:00

March 10: PTO International Food Fair and Jr. for Hire

March 14: MS Concert

March 15: End of Quarter 3

March 20: Q3 Grades Verified

March 23: Parent-Teacher Conferences; 12:30 dismissal

March 25 - April 2: Mid-Semester Break

Authentic Transformation: “I think love because I am.”

Last week I shared about my journey to begin to discover how to foster authentic spiritual transformation in our students. The first thing I’ve learned is that our Christian culture often exclusively emphasizes the importance of head knowledge in Christian formation. Interestingly, the greatest commandments that summarize all the commands of Scripture can be summarized by one word: love. How do you teach someone to love? Do they learn to love by acquiring information in class, or does it take more than that? As the acclaimed Reformed theologian, James K.A. Smith, writes in his seminal work, You Are What You Love:

What if, instead of starting from the assumption that human beings are thinking things, we started from the conviction that human beings are first and foremost lovers? What if you are defined not by what you know but by what you desire? What if the center and seat of the human person is found not in the heady regions of the intellect but in the gut-level regions of the heart? How would that change our approach to discipleship and Christian formation?

Smith, a seminary professor, is by no means anti-intellectual. He recognizes, through Scripture and church history, that faith formation has a lot more to it than teaching people the right facts. His book is a call to having a holistic view of faith that emphasizes relationship and gives a place for the practical.

We learn to love, then, not primarily by acquiring information about what we should love but rather through practices that form the habits of how we love. These sorts of practices are “pedagogies” of desire, not because they are like lectures that inform us, but because they are rituals that form and direct our affections.

Smith’s book, a new favorite of mine, echoes all of the research I’ve discovered in the past year of searching for answers for what brings lasting spiritual change in students’ lives. Ultimately, the Christian walk is not a religion; it’s a relationship. To form a relationship you do need information, but information is just one small part of the relationship. In the coming weeks I’ll be writing about ways we can help our students foster a living relationship with God that encompasses all parts of who they area.

Susan Allen

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