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 DEVOTIONS POSTED IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS

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IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE STUDENTS, I COULD HAVE A GOOD DAY!

Proverbs 14:4 Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox. KJV


       Do you ever have those days that you feel like teaching school would not be so bad if it weren't for the students? Do you ever get tired of the sticky fingers, smudged glass doors, or crumpled book pages? If we're honest, most of us feel that way from time to time. It's not that we don't love our students, but sometimes the effort required to lead and teach them becomes tedious.
      This is how I was feeling when I discovered this verse. It was the first fall break of the new school year. As I was cleaning and reorganizing my classroom, I discovered that one of my students had spilled little round hole-punches all over the floor. The mess caused me to remember how tired I was last May. Then the reality that I would face more challenges this year caused me to sit and consider my career. A teacher’s job can be demanding even without the messes. Yes, without the kids, teaching would be a great job! Without the children, my classroom would be well organized, clean, and lovely. However, the value of teaching--the reason for my efforts is bundled up in those children. Even as much work as the children require, the hope for tomorrow's world is packaged in those rowdy, sometimes unruly, young boys and girls. I decided it was worth it. I dutifully began to pick up the little round dots.
     What a privilege to be called to teach children!  They are our investment for a better tomorrow. This realization, alone, is enough to encourage me to again press me toward the high calling set before me. I consider it a privilege to be called "teacher.”

 Dear God, Thank you for placing me in the classroom to help direct the children toward your truths and your ways. I need your wisdom and guidance daily for such an awesome task.

TEACH ME TO BE GRACIOUS

Colossians 4:6  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

            How many times have we purposed in our hearts that we are not going to be hateful or backbiting to someone when a certain topic comes up in the conversation?  And, what do we do? Yes, we do exactly what we said we would not do!  God's Word has some specific directions for each of us in this matter.  James 4:6 says, "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."  
            What is humility? Humility is NOT...thinking less of yourself!  Humility IS...not thinking of yourself at all!  When you are full of grace (seasoned with salt), you are spreading goodness, cheer, and concern for your fellowman.  Your words will become a blessing and not a cursing to your brother.  After all, isn’t that what Jesus taught in Luke 6:28 Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
            Teachers can create even more conflict by the way they answer a student or a parent in an emotional issue.  Purpose in your heart to extend grace to those you serve through gentleness and kindness--even when they are not showing you the grace of Christ.  As school teachers, we are the example to be followed.  Let Christ dwell within you richly (Colossians. 3:16) and let His light shine through your words (and tone) to reflect his unconditional acceptance even when others are being unlovely.  Remember, a soft answer turns away wrath. 

Dear God, Give me the strength to empty me of myself enough to learn humility.  Teach me to be slow to speak.  Give me soft words when I do speak.  Fill me with your grace and let it overflow in my daily walk.  Let the love of Christ within me cover a multitude of sin in others.


SEND ME COWORKERS THAT LEAD ME TO A HIGHER PLANE


Proverbs 22:24-25 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.
Proverbs 29:8 Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger.


          It only takes one disgruntled coworker to make the workplace a miserable daily grind, especially if that employee verbalizes his complaints in the teachers' lounge.  Several years ago I was happy with my job assignment until they hired a woman with a critical attitude.  After hearing her complaints against the leaders and the business day after day, I found myself liking my job less and less.  Things that I never noticed before began to irritate me.  Offenses began to grow.  The job had not changed; my attitude had changed.  I eventually found another job.  Later I learned that the complainer stayed with that job for several years. She "talked" me out of my job!
         I have seen this happen in schools.  Teachers get angry and stir up other teachers and make everyone miserable.  The grumbler may even stir up parents and students.  Or, sometimes it’s a student that becomes angry and stirs up other students.  These things need to be corrected through loving confrontation.  An unrestrained tongue (spark) can set a whole forest on fire (James 3:5).
         Wise men turn away wrath; they do not socialize with angry men.  You may be unable to stop others from complaining, but you can choose not to become part of the discussion.  Simply excuse yourself from the conversation and leave the area.  You may, in love, point out to the disgruntled worker how they are spreading bad seed and making themselves miserable.  Coworkers can let the grumbler know that they don’t want to hear the complaints.  This confrontation may help the person deal with their attitude and unforgiveness.  Your willingness to say something about their protests could make a difference in their year.  
        Take personal responsibility for the atmosphere of your school as far as it is in your power.  Offenses are to be handled personally and privately. Purpose always to clear offenses, and never let a lot of time pass without settling your anger. Don't pick up the offense of a coworker.  Instead, encourage them to go to the persons involved to resolve the conflict.  These are God's instruction to the Body of Christ.  As you follow them, you will be the winner!

Dear God, Let me choose to turn from anger.  Help me to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.


I WANT MY SERVICE TO BE GENUINE

Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
    Do you know a "man-pleaser"? (See Colossians 3:22 KJV.) If you do, you will have no doubt who they are. When the boss is around, they work diligently; they smile broadly giving "lip service" of praise and agreement. However, when the boss is not around their quality of work diminishes or perhaps even stops. They often gossip, talk about the boss, or argue about the company's rules. A man- pleaser usually does not carry his share of the work. Neither does he do anything "extra.” He only works when the "boss" is in sight.  
    God's ways are higher than man's ways. The Bible did not say that we should obey an authority because he has earned it. God wants us to obey our leaders because we fear God. A diligent worker is an honor to God. He not only shows his understanding of God's ways, but he also shows a quiet trust in the Lord by placing his life into God's hands. A godly worker works even when no one notices or appreciates his work. The Christian teacher should do their work "as unto the Lord.”
    Do you catch yourself looking to see if the principal is coming? Do you say or think the words, “Here comes the principal,” with a quick check on your current behavior? If so, you may be a man-pleaser who is giving eye service only to look good.  When you realize that everything you do is before God, the highest authority, the principal coming into your work area is not such a significant event.  If your priority is to please the highest authority, you will never fail to please your principal.

Dear God, Help me to be a "God pleaser" and not a "man pleaser.” As I please you and obey your word, others will usually be pleased too. “If God is for us,  who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

​DON'T TAKE THE FOOLISHNESS OF YOUR STUDENTS PERSONAL

Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
       

          The tenth grade boy raised his hand during study hall.  I quietly walked to his study center and asked if I could help him. “The light bulb isn’t working.  Can I go get another one from the janitor?” he asked. 
         I hesitated for a moment and then I told him that there was enough light in the room without the lamp directly over his study center.  After I walked away, I saw him tighten the bulb and turn his light back on.  He was playing games and trying to get out of class for awhile.  At first, this made me angry.  I knew he would have bragged about tricking me if I had let him leave the classroom.
        How do we keep from getting angry when kids play tricks on us?  Well, the above Scripture helped me to get things into perspective.  Foolishness is a natural part of being a child—especially some children.  The reason we discipline them is to “drive it far from him.”  We should not allow ourselves to get angry over their foolishness, but rather we should see it as an opportunity to train and discipline it out of them.
      This student’s statement to the teacher was a lie.  His game actually led him into sin.  Children need to understand that foolishness often leads to sin.  If they respect God’s Word and desire to do right, they will hear biblical instruction and change their ways.  This student earned a consequence for his deceit and lie. He was not disciplined for his foolishness.  
       By the way, a sense of humor helps to overcome your offense.  Don’t ever forget what it was like to be a kid.  Much of the time kids don’t think all the way through their foolishness.  However, for some students, this response could be a form of mockery rather than simple foolishness.  (Mockers seek to make the leader look foolish--Proverbs 9:8.)  The same consequence would be appropriate whether it was foolishness or mockery.  The teacher that controls anger or resentment during these times of irritation, will be more effective in training up the child in the way he should go. 


DEAR GOD, HELP ME TO BE LEVEL HEADED RATHER THAN HOT TEMPERED WHEN IT COMES TO KIDS’ FOOLISHNESS.  HELP ME TO SEE THESE SITUATIONS FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE.  THEIR FOLLY IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR TRAINING.  GIVE ME THE GRACE TO DISCIPLINE RATHER THAN REACT PERSONALLY IN ANGER.


​DON"T FORGET TO PLAY!

Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine but a broken spirit drieth the bones. KJV

       You can affect your health by more than diet, nutrition, exercise, and sleep.  Your attitude and outlook on life affects your health. A cheerful outlook on life helps us to face life's ups and downs.  We all have them, but how you deal with them makes a difference.  
       How long has it been since you met with a friend or a group of friends for the purpose of having fun and no other reason?  Summer is a great time for backyard activities like volleyball, baseball, horseshoes, croquet, bocce balls, bean toss, washers, and other games. I have great memories of having family over to make homemade ice cream with games of horseshoes and croquet in our backyard.  Other times it was hot dogs with watermelon.  Or perhaps you prefer having guests over for dinner or a church social.  People enrich our lives.  Have you discovered the joy of fellowship?  
       As Christians, we are instructed to rejoice. "Rejoice in the Lord always ..." Phil 4:4. We need to learn to be content in what we have.  Discontentment will ruin our health. I Tim. 6:6 teaches us that success is being able to be content living right and pleasing God. Determine to be joyful, loving, thankful, peaceful, forgiving, and grateful.  Do something unexpected for someone without expecting something in return. Decide to be aware of your fun time this summer.  If you do, you will feel more rested and revived for the next school year.  
      The old adage, "All work and no play makes ________ a dull (boy/girl).'  What about it?  Are you ready to do something fun this summer?

Dear God, I need to relax more and enjoy this school break.  Give me the wisdom and determination to find that place of contentment, and enjoyment with my family and friends.  I ask you to give me a merry heart that enjoys being with others and has the capacity to bless others.  Amen.   


​​DID I REALLY SAY THAT?


Daniel 5:5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. [6] His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.

I faced my class with obvious dismay and began my rebuke with these words.  “Class, I met with the principal and she is upset because several of you continue to leave your coke cans on the bleachers. I can see ‘the handwriting on the wall’. You’re going to lose the privilege of going to the gym during lunch.”  I continued to lecture them about responsibility and privileges.  I made it clear that when you abuse a privilege and are not responsible you lose that privilege.  I even reminded them of the previous times they were warned about leaving the gym clean.  I finished by telling them how I was sorry for them but there was nothing I could do.  They would have to earn back the privilege themselves. When I stopped talking, one of the junior high boys raised his hand and asked, “What wall?” 

I was confused.  “What do you mean, what wall?” I answered.

“What wall was written on?” he replied.  I chuckled.  No one in the room had heard the cliché or the Bible story from which it originated.  He had lost my entire message.  As I talked about the mess in the gym, most of my students were trying to decide which wall was vandalized in the gym.  It took a few more minutes of explanation before my message was really understood.

Memories like these still make me laugh.  It also reminds me how difficult and complex communication can be.  When you are addressing your class, you may want to check your message with them.  They may not be receiving the same one you think you sent.  You can do this “fast food style”.  After you go to a fast food window and give your order, they repeat your order back to you.  You can check messages by asking someone to explain to the class what you just said, or ask a particular student if he understood what you said; if so, would he explain it to you privately.  Of course you can always give a pop quiz—ha, ha.  

Watch your clichés; they really can “date” you.  If you use clichés, make sure they are understood.  For instance, a deaf couple was very offended when their deaf minister suggested that they “went to bed with the chickens” (going to sleep at dusk) because they were leaving a party early.  At first, they were offended, and it took some explaining before they understood!

DEAR GOD, WORKING WITH KIDS CAN BE FUN.  TEACH ME TO BE A CLEAR COMMUNICATOR.  ALSO, HELP ME TO DEVELOP THAT SENSE OF HUMOR THAT HELPS TO BREAK DOWN WALLS AND REACH OUT TO THE KIDS.


CONTENTMENT IS LEARNED


Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. [12] I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. [13] I can do everything through him who gives me strength.


Paul states that he has “learned to be content”.  He knew what it was like to be in the top echelon of society.  He was an educated, “high class” citizen of his time.  He also experienced being arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and rejected because of his faith in Jesus Christ.  He knew the best of times and the worst of times.  And, through it all he gained contentment.  

True contentment comes as we mature and realize there is a greater purpose for our lives than pleasure.  We often learn that the things we seek with our whole heart are still not enough to satisfy us.  The young person who seeks popularity, a great career, a family, a home, a new car and nice things usually finds that they are not as gratifying as he expected.  This disappointment can lead him into depression and hopelessness.  Or, it can lead him into seeking a greater purpose in life.  Paul discarded all of the “clout” as an elite member of society to follow Christ.  It was in his commitment to Christ that he found contentment.    Proverbs 19:23 says -- The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.  

It is not what you have or who you know that will bring true contentment to your life.  But rather, it is getting your relationship with God in its right place.  Security begins with knowing that Christ is your provider, your strength, your protection and your forgiveness.  Allowing God to lead your daily decisions and knowing that God is in the middle of all of your experience, good or bad, brings rest and peace to your life. As you grow in your relationship with Christ and learn to lean only on him, you will then become content no matter what your circumstances are for today.  

Your students will be drawn to the “peace that passes understanding” seen in your daily walk.  When you see them following you, point them past you to Christ.  Help them to see the difference Christ has made in your life.

DEAR GOD, I AM NOT ALWAYS CONTENT.  SOMETIMES I DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM WANTING. TEACH ME TO FIND MY CONTENTMENT IN YOU.  HELP ME TO REALIZE THAT ALL GOOD THINGS COME FROM YOU AND YOU WORK ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR MY GOOD.

 ​

I CAN'T AGREE WITH MY PRINCIPAL!


Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
    Sometimes your principal may make a decision that you cannot accept or understand. You have two choices. You can accept the decision knowing that God is ultimately in charge, and ask God to direct your leaders.  Or, if you feel strongly that the decision must be questioned for the good of the school, you can prepare an appeal and talk with your principal.
    If you choose to appeal, consider the following thoughts to determine if you are properly prepared. If you have not been cooperative, have current unresolved conflicts or have recently shown resistance to your leader, you may not have earned the favor needed to ask for consideration. Have you consistently shown an attitude of respect and honor to your leader? If not, you probably should not try to make an appeal.
     Have you prepared a creative alternative to present to your leader when you ask that the decision be changed? Your principal will be more willing to hear your ideas when you offer a second solution. Is your solution in the best interest of the entire organization?  If so, are you prepared to explain those benefits? Also, are you prepared to have your ideas rejected?  You must give your leader the  "right" to disagree with you.  Avoid anger.  It will destroy future favor. 
    Here’s a word of advice--approach your employer with humility; respectfully present your concern and your creative solution.  Show gratefulness for his/her willingness to hear your opinion.  Don’t be pushy or manipulative.  End your meeting on a positive note thanking him/her for being willing to meet with you.

Dear God, Give me the wisdom to know how to appeal to my employer.  Help me to build a respectful attitude toward my principal even when I cannot understand or accept decisions.   Build character in my life as I learn to submit to authority.  


SET A GUARD OVER MY TONGUE


Proverbs 25:2  (NIV) It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
Proverbs 10:12 (NIV) Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

        Gossip is fun!  If it weren’t, it would not trap people.  Soap operas play on people’s desire to get the latest “scoop.”   We get hooked into watching the continuing stories. We don’t want to miss the latest trauma or victory.  We not only want to hear about new developments, but we also want to discuss it with our neighbors and give them our opinion of what’s happening.  It is a clever way to use a perpetual “story” to build patterns of gossip and judgment in our lives.
       During the school year, teachers, parents, students, and administrators work closely together. Our strengths and weaknesses become evident.   (We all have them!)  It pleases God for us to choose to conceal or protect our brother's weaknesses from exposure rather than to make that difficulty a point of conversation.  In Matthew 18, we are instructed to go to our brother and him alone to discuss such a matter.  The weakness does not have to be a sin issue; it could be an irritating habit or oddity. Damaging slurs toward parents, teachers, or students can infect the entire school climate.  A negative statement could be something as simple as "I don't like the way that teacher talks to the students on the playground."  Or, it could be in the form of a question, "Do you think he might not being telling all he knows?"
       Peace should always be our goal.  Remember, slander is a hindrance to your Christian walk.  Slander can be defined as “causing someone to think less of someone else.”  I think Thumper, the little rabbit in the Walt Disney movie, BAMBI, had the best idea--"If you can't say something nice, don't say nuttin' at all!"
       People leave jobs, schools, and churches as a result of gossip.  Even when a bad report is true, the report can create disappointment and disillusionment among the younger members and can harm the entire workplace. It is easy to recognize the damage that careless words bring after the fact, but avoiding the harm is our calling. It is usually beneficial and appropriate for the matter to be handled privately.  As a staff, your school can agree to refuse to repeat gossip in the teacher’s lounge, hallways, and lunchroom. Avoiding gossip takes effort; it takes a commitment.  Self-control will be easier if we can remember that God's love covers a multitude of errors.  "6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."                     (1 Corinthians 13:6-7).  
        This also applies to the classroom setting.  When a student is being disciplined, the issue should remain between the child and the teacher.  Discipline is always for the purpose of training the student.  We, as school leaders, must never bring harm to the student's social standing.  Restoration is our goal.  This is what pleases God.  Revealing details of an offense is the desire of man, but God's desire is to protect and restore.
 
Dear God, Make me sensitive as I discipline my students and as I observe the struggles of my coworkers.  May I never be anxious to reveal someone's weaknesses.   Should I desire to become involved in gossip, quickly reprimand me.  Tug on my heart and remind me to seek the glory of God rather than the glory of man.   


AS LONG AS THERE IS LIFE THERE IS HOPE


Ecclesiastes 9:4  Anyone who is among the living has hope--even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!


    Do you ever feel that there is no hope for you or possibly no hope for one of your students?  This  Bible verse reminds us that where there is life, there is hope.  As we grow older, we often realize that our productive classroom years are fading. Our accomplishments seem so small; we wish we had done more or done some things differently.  Sometimes we feel that we have wasted our best years just spinning our wheels.  The students we did not reach, and the students who never cared seem to haunt our memories.  Our victories seem insignificant. STOP!  LISTEN!  As long as there is life "It ain"t over."  
    God grants life for a "purpose."  He has a purpose for your existence.  Your place of employment and/or job assignment may change through the years, but you will always have a "purpose."  We need to discover God’s purpose in each day and pursue it with all our might. Too often we seek the "big picture"  before we begin  the puzzle.  But often God asks us to place each piece of our puzzle before Him daily, and He will bring the big picture into focus in His time.  
    Only God knows who the Lions will be.  His purposes are valued differently than men values things.  Let the Word of God dwell in you richly.  Turn from your self-centered thinking to God-centered thinking and leave the final results to God.  Set God's work and His love as your goal and press toward it with all your might.  Only in eternity will you know how valuable yesterday was in His Kingdom and what today's plans will accomplish.  Live today to its fullest.  The secret to success is purpose and perseverance.  God will lead you if you will follow.

Dear God, Help me to persevere.  I choose to not be weary in well doing.  I will run the race with patience.  Thank you for life and purpose.  Lead me down your good path planned for me (Psalms. 16:11; 27:11).


JUSTICE AND MERCY


James 2:13  ...because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

            Your success or failure as a teacher will depend on your classroom discipline. Students cannot learn well in a classroom that is out of control; therefore, control is as much a part of your teaching as the daily lesson plan.  A student with knowledge but no self-discipline will not be prepared for the adult world.  Each teacher must establish control within the classroom.  No principal can do that for you.  Written rules of conduct and consequences are essential.  Never make the rules up as you go!  When students and teachers know the rules and consequences, they can follow the plan with a greater sense of fairness.  
            The discipline in your classroom must be delicately balanced. There are times that strong correction is needed and other times instruction and mercy are more appropriate.  You need to evaluate each situation. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Search for possible explanations of inner motives.  You may discover an underlying reason for the student’s misbehavior.  The student may be experiencing family problems, the family dog may have been killed, a friend may have been unkind, anger may be misplaced, or immaturity rather than rebellion may be the issue. Discipline rebellion and train immaturity
             Justice should not always reign--sometimes mercy is more humane and more Christ-like.    Even as Christ showed you mercy, you can decide to show mercy.  A case in point would be a student who earned five detentions because of multiple responses to one incident.  This would punish the student for a two-week period.  Instead, the student might receive one detention and a three-page essay assignment explaining the importance of obeying the rules (plus a trip to the counselor). Balance is the key to successful discipline.  When will we know that our discipline is successful? Success is when the student returns to the class and willingly follows our leadership.
            In most situations, follow the rules and hold the line firm.  Nevertheless, there are times when mercy is more appropriate than justice.  Teachers are to be builders of lives.  We must use our discipline decisions as tools to build students toward a better tomorrow. Which--mercy or justice--will train my student for their future?  Seek to build better citizens, rather than create bitter students. Remember, discipline is always FOR the student and never AGAINST the student.

Dear God, Teach me balance.  Thank you for the mercy you have shown me in my life when I failed.  Teach me to recognize my students' need for justice and mercy.  Give me the wisdom to appropriately respond in each discipline situation I encounter. Fill my heart with love for each of my students--especially the one that gives me so much trouble.

CORRECTION VERSUS PUNISHMENT


1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.


     When correcting, restoration is our ultimate goal whether we are dealing with students, a fellow teacher, a parent or our own children.  Punishment just for the sake of punishment becomes vengeance.  Teachers must respond to students with "purpose" rather than "anger."
     Loving correction often includes consequences, but the ultimate goal is not the punishment but rather the corrected attitude and behavior.  A leader's wrong attitude in the process of correction may stop the outward offense but will embitter the child inwardly and reinforce his determination to be independent of our leadership.  Matthew 15:19 tells us that a man's thoughts rule his actions.  In major offenses or continually repeated disobedience, students can best be corrected by including a time-out period with individual instruction and introspection to bring new understanding and insight into the motivation behind his misbehavior.  If this is done with love and true concern for the child's future--not just punishment--leaders will often see a heart change and growth in maturity.
     The student's offense was not against you, personally; a student's misbehavior is against the position you hold.  It is not until you, the person, offend him that it becomes a personal issue.  The student will not know the difference; but you, the teacher, must understand so you can keep your emotions out of the conflict.  Remember to train immaturity and discipline rebellion. Ask God for discernment to understand which situation. It is--immaturity (not knowing) or rebellion (refusing to obey). When you have the answer, respond accordingly.
    Do not repay evil for evil, but rather bless students with your concern for their future.  Help them to see how misbehavior affects their lives. A future job may be lost, a marriage may break up, or an arrest may happen if the behavior continues into adulthood.  Love the child by leading him/her to correct behavior and self-discipline.

Dear God, Help me to be mature enough to love the unlovely child, to see past his immaturity and rebellion into his future.  Help me to correct him, in love, for his future; I want to bless and not curse.


REST FOR THE WEARY


Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

     When the cares of the world press in on you, and you feel you do not have the strength to teach, stop a few minutes and talk to God.  There is no problem too great or too complex that God cannot bring a solution.  Rest comes when we become as a little child and trust God.  
    A master teacher has learned to put aside personal problems and take on the responsibility and concerns of the classroom.  With God's help and your understanding of Jesus' words in Matthew 11, you can enter your classroom peacefully and confidently even when your personal life is unsettled.  
    In reality, only God is big enough to solve your difficulties.  Not one minute of worry can change your situation.  Not one minute of fretting can protect someone you love.  Not one minute of regret can change what happened yesterday.  The only answer is your ability to exchange "burdens" with Christ.  Leave your burden at the cross and pick up His burden (the work of the Kingdom).  Rest comes through trust.  There is no other way.  It begins with a decision--an act of your will, but it is completed by the power of an Almighty Creator who is touched by your feelings of pain. He is concerned, and in His time He can, and will, make all things beautiful.  You can rest through prayer, praise, and trust.

Dear God, Please help me to trust you more.    I roll all of my burdens on you today.  Take care of them as I set my thoughts and actions toward the task of teaching.  I choose to trust you.  I will not be afraid, or dismayed.


HELP ME NOT TO BECOME WEARY IN WELL DOING


Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.


       Most jobs, sooner or later, become tiresome, less motivating, and/or difficult.  There may be something about your job that makes you struggle, or there may be people on your team that steal the enjoyment of your job.  Life is made up of struggle and reward.  Pain and joy have been an interwoven expression of life for all time.  In fact, without pain, joy seems mediocre; without a struggle, the reward is unappreciated.
       As the days go by, the exciting beginning of school changes to the methodical schedule of day-in and day-out routine and changes into the uphill climb of the century during the last quarter of the year.  Remember "in due season" you will see the benefit; don't faint!  
       During these difficult times, sleep more, eat right, exercise, and spend more time in prayer.  Each of these will help to strengthen you for the climb.  Try helping a fellow teacher who is struggling or overloaded.  Turning your thoughts and energy outward to help another person who is struggling can help you get your situation into perspective.  As we give our time and energy to meet others’ needs, God will restore energy and time to us.  Try making a list of every project that needs to be done.  Number those items according to what needs to be done (first, second, third, etc.)  Next, begin to do each project in the order of priority. A sense of accomplishment will build as you begin to complete these smaller goals.  Being overwhelmed and weary is often a signal of our need to re-focus our priorities, and change our current strategies.  Consider postponing larger, long-term projects until summer break when you have more time to concentrate and plan.  If you see that you don't have the time or energy to try your new ideas this year, plan to start fresh with it next year.  
      Should you decide that you need to talk with someone concerning your struggles, choose a person with wisdom.  Pity and agreement are not what you need.  Pity may cause you to sink deeper into your pit.  Seek wise counsel from someone who will be concerned, but also be realistic in helping you restructure your approach to your difficulties.
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Dear God.  Teach me again to take my eyes off of my struggles and myself.  Help me to refocus and set my eyes on the goal set before me.  Give me wisdom through counsel for the issues I can’t seem to overcome.  My heart is to be a helping hand wherever I go--a servant of the Most High God. Lead me with your loving Spirit.


HELP ME NOT TO BE NERVOUS ABOUT EVALUATIONS


Colossians 3:17  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


    Most teachers dread teacher evaluations, even experienced teachers.  The thought of being graded and "written up" makes our knees knock and our heads reel.  We fear criticism and rejection from our supervisor.   
    We must not allow ourselves to be overcome with fear.  God is the greatest authority in our life.  He is a constant companion throughout our daily tasks, and He knows the very desires of our heart.  No success or failure goes unnoticed by Him.  No gentle touch or harsh word goes unheard by the Creator of the Universe.  As we do everything, word or deed, we should do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, Our ultimate goal is to please God.
    If we please God, who is the highest authority, then anything a principal says will be secondary.  We can welcome the comments and suggestions made by our principal when we understand that our supervisor is a tool from God sent to teach us a better way.  You can have a calm, secure, and teachable spirit during evaluations because you want to be the best you can be.  Like a child responds to a parent or a student to a teacher, you can respond to your principal with respect and a willingness to learn.  
    Get excited about your principal's visits to your classroom.  You can look forward to learning new or better ways of doing things.  Consider your principal working "for" you, not "against" you.  Don't be rigid.  If you are doing something out of the ordinary, like standing on top of your desk, when your principal walks into your class, continue teaching.  You can give an explanation to your principal later.  Don't feel guilty.  Since your principal has been in the classroom, he/she will probably understand your explanation.  If not, learn from the comments.  If your supervisor chooses to suggest an alternate action for the future, accept his/her opinion and decide to follow the directives.  You can become a better teacher as you submit to your principal's instructions and allow him/her to lead you.  Every principal can teach you something!  Of course, if you strongly disagree with your principal's requirements, you can always make an appeal.  But, remember that appeals must always be done respectfully and privately.  

Dear God, Thank you for my principal and the instructions he/she offers to me.  Help me to be pliable enough to learn from all instruction whether I immediately understand it or not.  Teach me to welcome the principal's visits.


TEACH ME TO BE A PATIENT LEADER

Proverbs 14:29 Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
        Unfortunately, many of us were not born with an easy-going temperament.  Instead, we must build self-control through trials and tests.  In the midst of these learning experiences, we can count it all joy.  Why?  Because we can teach our students the secret of overcoming a temper as we conquer our own personal battles.  The teacher who overcomes has a life message of victory. They can offer specific direction and counsel to students who struggle with similar temper difficulties. A patient teacher is loving, yet decisive, in control, understanding and wise.  The godly character displayed in this teacher's life can help to equip students with skills needed to work with his/her fellowman.
     "Sounds great, but I'm on the other end of the spectrum--the quick-tempered teacher.  What do I do?" you ask.  Perhaps you need to meditate on the "fruit" or result of a quick-temper.  A quick-temper will:
1.      negate your authority,
2.      dull your Christian testimony,
3.      be seen as a weakness by your class,
4.      make your day to day experiences miserable for you.
    Once students learn to push your buttons, they will play "the game” over and over again.  The students secretly know that they win the battle when you lose your cool.  They may even joke and make your temper a matter of conversation with other students.  As a professional leader, you cannot afford the luxury of showing your anger.   
     Here are some suggestions that may help.  Meet with your principal or a friend to discuss specific situations that stir up your anger.  Seek counsel that may give you insights and solutions to the problem.  Identify the student(s) who push your buttons and determine a plan of action for the next attack.  For instance, you may decide that “Johnny—or Joni” will be placed out in the hallway anytime you feel anger building toward his/her behavior.   It’s better for the student to have “time out” than for you to lose your cool.  You may discover that your discipline has not been methodical and consistent within your classroom.  Correcting this may relieve the tension and regain the control needed.
    Discipline is never you against the students.  Rather it is the student against the rules or the students against your position (teacher).  You are simply the policeman who writes out the ticket and gives the student what he has earned.  Your emotions should not be involved.  It is your responsibility to train your students. Teachers never "get back at a student."  That is a child's approach.  As an adult, you are to "train and reprove" and lead the student into more mature actions and thinking.  Keep short accounts--don't let anger build.  Pray for students who irritate you.  Practice a controlled response privately when there is no conflict--rehearse for the real thing until the response feels more natural. With God's help and your steadfast determination, you can overcome discipline issues in your classroom.

Dear God, Make me like you--patient, loving and firm.  Give me the courage to discipline with purpose rather than anger. Teach me to act out of responsibility rather than react out of personal rights! 


TEACH ME HOW TO CREATE THE BOND OF PEACE

Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

     The atmosphere of your classroom will be determined by your attitude.  A principal can feel the difference in classrooms when walking through the hallways.  There are joyful, fun-loving teachers; strict, no-nonsense teachers; diligently detailed teachers; and quiet, gentle teachers.  All of these personalities can be successful in the classrooms.  But a teacher with a negative attitude, whether they are angry, unforgiving, uncaring, uninterested, or arrogant, will have difficulties with discipline.  
    Jesus told us that the greatest leaders among us would be great servants (Matthew 23:11).  A teacher is a servant.  We are called to serve, to teach, and to share the knowledge that God has so graciously allowed us to learn.  Teachers must never have a proud spirit. Our age, education, and experience have equipped us. We must approach our classroom with humility, but also with confidence knowing that God has supplied us with a message to teach.
    As conflicts arise, we must do our best to ponder our childish mistakes from our past.  Remembering our own mistakes will help us find a balance in discipline as we realize that many mistakes are due to immaturity, not rebellion.  If a student is rebellious, we are to give firm discipline and encourage them to change the defiant behavior.  If the student lacks understanding or forgets, we must re-teach as we discipline.  Two students can display exactly the same behavior for two different reasons--rebellion or immaturity.  The only way we can determine which applies to the particular offense is to allow the student to explain.  Be patient and listen to what the student says "beneath" the explanation.
    Love the child as you discipline.  The Love of Christ can help you understand the student who challenges you repeatedly.  He/she is a child.  He/she is immature.  He/she does not see events through the same seasoned, mature, experienced eyes that you do.  Gently, lovingly, and firmly deal with students "for" their good” and, "for" their future.  Draw from the love of God within you, and get rid of any negative emotions you have before you discipline.  Teachers are the adults; students are the children.  Pride can block your ability to do this. You must lay pride down and replace it with a grateful heart, full of humility and service to God's Kingdom.

Dear God, Discipline seems to be the hardest part of my job.  I choose to lay down my pride and pick up a servant's attitude.  Help me to learn your ways as I teach my students.