Copyright © 2008-2018 Master's Academy. All rights reserved.
DEVOTIONS POSTED IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS
DELIVER ME FROM MY RAIN CLOUD
1 Corinthians 4:12-13 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly…
Being pleasant is not difficult when things go your way, but have you learned to shine during rainy weather? Have you died to your flesh enough to bless when you are cursed, to answer kindly when you are slandered or to endure quietly when you are persecuted?
You only have control over yourself. If you wait for others to treat you right or for things to go better before you have a good attitude, you are giving up your control to someone else. This is a victim’s approach to life. A victim feels powerless; they hopelessly wait for someone to change before they can find happiness. But, being happy is a choice. You must take control of your feelings and your behavior if you are going to find peace and contentment.
In Genesis 37, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph’s trials were just beginning. He suffered through betrayal, false accusation, and neglect, but Joseph did not sit back and feel sorry for himself. He made the best of each situation he faced. He became the “sunshine” in the dreary prisons. He knew how to choose happiness rather than remain a victim. Joseph knew his God, and he trusted God to always lead his steps for good. This ability to overcome brought him recognition, promotion, and success in the middle of the bad situations. And, in God’s time, he was promoted out of the pit into the palace.
Learn to act rather than react to life. Make choices—purposeful choices that will bless and not curse others. Do not give your power away by allowing others to steal your peace and joy with their bad attitudes. Remember that the other guy is the one with the problem, not you; therefore, choose to keep your good attitude in spite of his words or actions. With God’s help and your commitment to do things His way, you can find sunshine in your life today.
Dear God, None of us like to be falsely accused, slandered or mistreated. I know you want me to be kind, gentle and good even when others do me wrong. I invite your Holy Spirit to do that work in me. Teach me how to choose sunshine instead of rain.
ANOINTED TO TEACH
1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him.
Christian teachers are called by God and equipped to teach by His anointing (Holy Spirit empowerment).
As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you ready and willing to lead you into all truth. In John 16:13 we read that the Holy Spirit will be your guide. You never enter your classroom alone. God's Spirit goes before you to prepare the way and dwells within you to lead you minute by minute (Deuteronomy 31:8). Unfortunately, this truth has not become a living reality for many teachers. Too many teachers still try to separate their "jobs" from their faith. They lean on man’s knowledge and fail to include God’s supernatural wisdom.
God’s Spirit, who has all knowledge and understanding, waits for you to ask for his assistance (Matthew 7:7-8; James 1:5-7). He holds the “keys” to unlock learning for your students. With His help, you can discern the students’ root problems in their educational and behavioral struggles. You can receive creative and unusual ideas for problem solving. He has promised to be your “ever-present help” in your time of need (Psalms 46:1; Hebrews 4:16). Just ask and believe; with God all things are possible.
Learn to rely on God’s anointing. During times of stress or decisions, silently cry out to God for guidance. He knows even your “far away” thoughts (Psalms 139:2). You can walk into any situation with confidence if you rely on God’s Spirit to lead you. In God, there is no conflict too great or too stressful for you to handle. You have the counselor of counselors by your side ready to advise you if you will just ask for help. God desires to give you, as a believer, his direction for today. His still small voice will be there to instruct you about all things. Learn to be sensitive to His leading. Pray for the wisdom to walk in the anointing that God has for you and to hear his direction for today.
Dear God, Guide my thoughts and decisions throughout this week. Open my spiritual ears to hear your still small voice. Teach me your ways and give me the wisdom to follow your direction in my classroom.
MAKE ME A SERVANT LIKE JESUS
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit; but in humility, value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Be ambitious to be nothing! At least nothing except what God designed you to be. When you gave your life to Christ, you became a servant. A servant goes where he is directed and does what he is commanded to do. He takes no thought of whether he "likes" it or not; he simply obeys because of his position. Jesus Christ is our greatest example of a servant. Philippians 2:6-8 tells us how Jesus, who is God, did not try to grasp being equal with God, but made himself to be nothing and became a servant in the form of a man. He became completely submitted and obedient to God, the Father, and submitted even to death on a cross.
There is something in each of us that recoils and wants to strike back when we hear the words servant and submission. We want to say, "I'm a King's kid!" But when searching The Bible, we find over and over again that those who exalt themselves will be abased, and those who choose to humble themselves before God will be exalted (Matthew 23:12). Remember, God's ways are not our ways; His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).
As we become willing to submit our lives as living sacrifices to God, going where He leads, speaking what He directs, and doing as He asks, the light of God within us will become so evident to those around us that they will want to know what makes us different. Why? Because, it is such an unusual way to live. It has an appeal to those wanting out of the darkness. Your coworkers, parents, and students have a need to see Jesus in you. They will be drawn to the light of Christ as you shine for Him in this dark, confusing world.
Dear God, make me a servant. Jesus was a servant, make me one too. You have placed my students and their parents in my world this year for a reason. Let my light so shine before them that you might be glorified.
HUMILITY COMES BEFORE HONOR
I Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Even though Mary was the mother of Jesus, there came a time in her life when Jesus became more than her son. She too bowed her knee. Jesus became more than her son; He became her Lord and Savior. Consider for a moment that awesome transition that Mary experienced.
We all will face transitions in relationships as we age. We often find ourselves following a supervisor or principal younger than us. And sometimes they are much younger and much less experienced than we are. Our challenge is to respect and follow these younger leaders with the goal of helping them to be successful. If we hold on to our pride, our rights and our need to be acknowledged for our experience and expertise, the transition at work will be uncomfortable. But, if we can humble ourselves and remain determined to make the new situation work, God will exalt us in due time. Remember, a man's gift makes way for him.
Trust God to exalt you in his timing. I have had this experience, and I have seen God bring me alongside my leaders as a helper after I humbly submitted and served my principal. Humble yourself in the sight of God, and He will lift you up. Pride will bring you down, but humility will give God the opportunity to exalt you in due time. Remember, Joseph, how he had to go through the experience of prison before he could be exalted in Pharoah's court.
Dear God, I trust you and I trust your Word. Fill me with your Grace as I seek to serve the leaders you placed over me. I place my professional career in Your hands.
CHOOSE NOT TO BE OFFENDED
James 1:19-20 …Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
It takes practice to learn to be slow to anger. Anger may come without warning, but what you do with that anger determines whether you win or lose. You can choose to allow the offense to penetrate your heart, or you can discard it and not let it dwell in your thoughts.
“That was not kind!” I said to myself. I could feel the offense rising in my heart. “Why would he say that? What did I do to deserve that kind of response?” I went on about my daily tasks, but my heart was still grappling with my emotions. “I need to be more mature than to allow an offense to build between my coworker and me,” I told myself. “Besides, he was probably having a bad day, and it was really a small thing.” But my heart kept feeling the offense. My emotional struggle with the offense continued for over an hour.
Finally, I made a conscious decision to let it go. “I choose to not be offended. I would not wait for my coworker to apologize to me before I let my anger go. I chose to not let the dagger of offense penetrate my heart and destroy our relationship!” My mind was working through the offense step by step. I realized that this coworker had said thoughtless, but innocent, things in the past. I chose to trust his heart, not his words. The process of working through my anger and choosing to forgive him set the offense out of my heart. The next day all was well as if it had never happened.
Without God’s grace, I would not have had the strength to process through such an offense. But, with God, we can release offense because we have been released by the blood of Christ. We can choose to not be offended. If the wound is too deep to just let it go, Matthew 18 tells us to go to the one who offended us and work it out. We must be willing to choose to work through it and not let a wedge come between us and those on our team. As much as it depends on you, live at peace with all men.
Dear God, Give me the wisdom and the willingness to walk through the process of releasing offense. I need grace to face times of stress and conflict
HELP ME TO WATCH MY WORDS AS I WATCH MY HEART
Romans 3:13-14 Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips." 14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
According to Luke 6:45, the words we say reflect the spiritual condition of our hearts. More and more I understand that my attitudes shape my thoughts and my words. When I stuff anger and hurt and then refuse to work through conflicts, my words become bitter and attacking. Disagreements and anger that are allowed to linger affect how I perceive my world. It’s like looking through a colored lens that changes the color of everything around me.
Today’s Scripture refers to the throat as a tunnel from the heart to the tongue. It is an open “grave”—a place of death for those whose hearts are continually evil. The words of these transgressors are poison to everyone; they are full of deception, cursing, bitterness, and death. Their antagonism reflects a heart that is out of fellowship with God—a heart that has allowed darkness to overshadow good.
I prefer to think this verse refers only to non-believers; however, all of us fall short of God’s best (Romans 3:10). 1 John 1:8 tells us that there is no one without sin. And, my experience convinces me that I have the capacity to build bitterness and anger in my heart even though I am a child of God. If I allow darkness to shadow my heart, it will tinge my outlook on life. And, my mouth will reveal my heart’s condition through unkind, thoughtless words.
Bitter and angry words warn me of the need to make my heart right with God and my fellowman. I must put on humility and submit myself before God’s throne. I then allow Him to cleanse my heart so that my words become pure. With God’s unlimited power, with His mercy and His grace, He changes my heart and renews my mind because of my repentance.
As we daily walk upright before God, taking the log out of our own eye, we will be able to help our students get their splinters out too (Matthew 7:3-5). In other words, teachers who continually cleanse their hearts before the Lord will be better prepared to help their students see their need for restoration with their friends, parents and teachers.
Dear God, Help me to quickly recognize the times when my heart begins to be filled with bitterness and anger. I want to commit myself to keeping short accounts with my fellowman and with you. Let my words be pure and pleasant as you purify my heart once again.
TEACH ME COMPLETE JOY THROUGH FORGIVENESS
1 John 1:4-7 We write this to make our joy complete. 5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
Jesus stressed forgiveness. Repeatedly He taught that we must forgive to be forgiven (Matthew. 6:14, 15; 18:35; Mark 11:25, 26; Luke 6:37; 2 Corinthians. 2:10; John 20:23). John tells us that judgment and unforgiveness will scatter relationships and shatter our inner peace and joy.
Our response to offenses affects our health and well-being more than most of us want to admit. Just the mention of certain names and our backs begin to stiffen. Our minds are flooded with unhappy, angry, bitter, and painful memories. A good day can become a terrible day just by seeing somebody in the grocery store or hearing someone mention a certain name. These offenses are unresolved issues or unforgiven debts.
You cannot be free until you free others. Somehow, the unforgiveness you hold out to others becomes the pain and suffering you inflict upon yourself. Where is the wisdom in this self-inflicted pain because of the wrongdoing of another? Jesus wants us to realize that by releasing others of offense, we are actually freeing ourselves to be happy again.
Forgiveness is a choice--not an emotion. Jesus said we are to forgive seventy times seven for each offense because He understood that it often takes time to overcome the pain. If you purpose in your heart to love the person who has wronged you, to pray for them, to bless them, and to speak only good about them, your healing process will begin. If you feel you cannot forgive, ask God to do it through you. With God, all things are possible--even loving your enemies. Each time the memory of the offense comes up, choose again to forgive and pray for that person. As you do this day after day, week after week, and month after month, you will begin to recognize the healing process that God is working in you. Do not be discouraged if it takes time, and do not quit forgiving. The freedom you gain will be worth the energy required to walk through the seven natural steps to forgiveness listed below.
Step 1: Nothing happened; nothing is wrong (denial).
Step 2: It is ALL my fault. (If I hadn’t done, or If I had done…)
Step 3: They had no right to do that! A-N-G-E-R!
Step 4: I am going to be okay. I still have value.
Step 5: Their problem does not have to become my problem.
Step 6: They have a problem that affects them in many relationships, not just with me.
Step 7: Father, forgive them for they didn't realize what they did to me.
Complete forgiveness is when you care for their souls. You don’t have to become their friends, but you need to care about their eternity.
Dear God, Teach me complete forgiveness. I am willing, but I need help.
(These steps were adapted from my personal experiences and hearing seven steps to forgiveness taught from several different perspectives. (Original source unknown.)
RESTORATION BUILDS GRATITUDE
Galatians 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
A knock at the door interrupted my language lesson. I quickly assigned some work to my students while I spoke with the visitor. The parent and I stepped just outside the classroom and had a short conversation. Meanwhile, the noise level began to escalate in my classroom. I could tell things were getting out of control, so I excused myself and went back to my class.
I wasn’t very pleased with my students. And, of course, I told them so. I lectured them about honoring visitors and being self-controlled and learning to be responsible. I gave them a warning about what would happen if this behavior ever happened again. Their eyes were wide, and you could feel the tension in the room. I knew they had gotten my message. Now it was time to restore them.
As soon as I finished my lecture, I paused and just looked at them. I then took a deep breath and exhaled loudly and said, “Whew! Aren’t we glad that’s over with? Let’s get back to work.” Then I smiled. The tension broke; you could see their muscles relax. Everything was back to normal. Puzzled, I watched silently as a girl stood up and came toward me. “We love you, Mrs. Wyrick,” she said as she put her arms around me and hugged me. I smiled, patted her shoulder, and she returned to her seat.
I then understood the value of restoration. My students knew they were guilty. They were old enough to “know better.” They were also immature enough to get caught up in a conversation and not think about it at the time. They needed forgiveness. My smile and release of tension through my words and body language communicated forgiveness to them. The young girl responded with gratefulness.
Restoration will be your spontaneous reaction when you turn your heart toward your students. Because I inwardly released my students from their immature behavior, restoration was a natural response. My students got my message; that was what I wanted. To do any more correction than that on a first offense would have been overbearing.
Dear God, Give me a forgiving heart toward others. Teach me to restore someone when it is obvious they know that they are wrong. Help me not to be a “nag”; instead, let me lead them to the right path.
HELP ME TO ESTEEM MY FELLOW TEACHERS!
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
It is easier to see things from our perspective; our thinking always seems so much more reasonable than the other person's ideas. Philippians adjures us not to seek our own way at the risk of hurting others. We are to avoid strife when possible. We must try to understand and respect others' opinions in order to work as a team.
Easier said than done, huh? You may ask, “Aren't there times that a disagreement is unavoidable? What if the issue involves sinful actions?” The key words are "lowliness of mind.” We must stand for what is godly and righteous, but we are also to stand with humility desiring the best for all those involved. We must be considerate of others’ opinions even when they are in direct opposition to our own. Learn to check messages to make sure you are communicating accurately. (Is this what you are saying? I understand that you feel...). Do not compromise right for wrong. However, sometimes you can offer creative solutions that do not require you to disobey God. Be friendly in your discussions and allow others to keep their opinions. If you are the authority, you must make the decision when compromise is not possible. If they are your authority, you must submit as long as the action does not cause you to sin. (You must always obey the highest authority.) If you are equals, you may need to work independently if a compromise is not found.
True love is not self-seeking (I Corinthians 13:5) and true humility thinks of others' needs. If we truly esteem the other person better than we do ourselves, we consider them #1. If they are serving God and they esteem you as better than themselves, they will consider you #1. If you are #1 in their eyes and they are #1 in your eyes, then there is no #2. This is God's plan for coworkers in His Kingdom. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God (Matthew 5:9).
Dear God, It is so hard to give up my opinion. Help me to be reasonable. Teach me to listen to someone else's opinion and be willing to learn. Also, help me to communicate clearly, so my ideas can be understood. Above all, teach me humility, submission, and the meaning of true love.
GOD, I HAVE A DECISION TO MAKE
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Are you frustrated? Are you having trouble determining God’s will in the decision? My husband and I faced a similar crisis about two years into our marriage. I fretted and prayed, then prayed and fretted more. Either decision posed serious consequences to our future. My husband sat down with me and said, “Elderine, this is what we are going to do. We are going to ask God to lead our thoughts toward His will. We are going to trust Him to direct our thinking. Then we are going to discuss the options together and make the decision that seems right to us. After that, we are going to trust that God led us to come to that decision.” And, that is what we did; later it was clear that we made the best decision.
I encourage you to choose to believe and trust God’s guidance as you ask Him to direct your thoughts toward His will. It sounds simple, but it has been a guiding principle of our lives throughout our many years of marriage. However, one thing you need to realize, it was our thoughts and not our feelings that guided us. Feelings can be deceiving and toss us about from one emotion to another. Do your best to move from your feelings to your “thinking.” As you consider the choices and the possible outcomes, pray over each one. Discuss the decision with someone you trust. You may want to sleep after your brainstorming session to let things settle in your mind. When you think you have found the right decision, then check your feelings. If there is still no peace, continue seeking wisdom until both your thoughts and your feelings are at peace with the decision.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. God will not give you a stone if you ask him for bread. He is faithful. You can trust Him to lead you to the right decision.
Dear God, I choose to trust you to guide me in this decision. I ask for supernatural guidance and wisdom as I think about my options and the possible consequences of each one. I know you are faithful. I trust you.
AM I PURSUING GOD OR MY OWN COMFORT?
Deuteronomy 11:16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them.
Both children and adults search for "heroes" and people of influence to admire, to follow, and to please. People want to belong and to feel accepted by peers. Peer pressure gains control when the desire to "fit in" is stronger than the desire to please God. No one wants to be rejected or be in conflict with the group. In reality, there will be times when those who follow Christ will have to take “The Road Less Traveled" (Robert Frost).
God wants to be first in our lives. This does not mean we have to give up friends and position. Instead, we are to be His hand extended by being a great friend to others and by being a positive influence to the group. This works wonderfully if your group wants to do the right thing. However, if your group is bent on going toward the path that displeases God, you are instantly placed in the crossroad position of having to choose which road you will follow.
Life can be difficult; choices are often unpleasant and stretching. Deuteronomy 11:16 warns us that our heart can be deceived; that we can lose our way and follow other gods without realizing that we have left our path. Encouraging others to take a higher path can be very intimidating. And, we all know how easy it is to get caught up in conflict that we didn't choose. Remember, the prodigal son came to his senses, and he turned back to his father's house. This is the answer to our wandering. When we begin to realize the deceit and error of our ways, we can quickly turn toward our Heavenly Father who understands our wanderings, our gullibility, and our failures. He is waiting to restore us back to the path He designed for us. His love is great and unconditional. He is waiting with open arms to set our hearts right.
Dear God, Create in me a clean heart and renew in me a right spirit. I choose to follow you with an undivided heart.
HOLD ON TO COURAGE AND HOPE
Hebrews 3:6-11 But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. 7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, . . 10That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, `Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.'11 So I declared on oath in my anger, `They shall never enter my rest.' "
Life is tough. The older I become the more I know there are very few “storybook” endings. However, I also have lived long enough to see bad things become stepping stones toward good changes in me. The briar and the rose often are used in literature to represent life experiences. Good things mixed with the hurt, pain and disappointment help us grow in character. Without the thorns and the pain, few of us would ever bloom into the lovely rose that God designed us to become. Life brings pain automatically. Ecclesiastes 9:11 says that “... time and chance happen to them all.” Becoming a victim, whether from a perpetrator, a misunderstanding, or a situation out of our control, happens to most of us in varying degrees. Very few escape victimization of some kind. Therefore, the questions is not just “How do we avoid being victimized,” but even more importantly, “How do we overcome victimization?”
God has given us promises in the Bible that offers courage and hope. We are told how God is intimately involved with the details of our lives. He even knows when the common sparrow falls. But we have the choice to believe God’s report or not to believe it. Our choice will make a difference in our healing process. Our choice will make a difference in our moving forward or digging a deeper pit as we go in circles seeking our own answers. Without courage and hope we wander aimlessly like the Children of Israel in the desert never really going forward and never finding our promised rest. The Spirit of God stands beside you to offer you courage and hope; demonic forces may be offering you reasons to blame God and others in your crisis. The way you handle that decision will greatly affect your future. The Children of Israel kept choosing unbelief, fear, doubt, and anger toward God and the leader He gave them. They believed the false report. They lost their courage and hope, and they never saw the promised land. They never entered into the joy that God had set before them.
Seek to find the sunshine in every rain cloud. Look for blessing when it looks like a curse. Remember, that in God’s timing, He can and will make all things beautiful if you will cling to courage and hope in Christ--because God said it--that makes it true!
Dear God, Forgive me when I falter in my faith in you. I want to follow you no matter what trouble comes my way. I know I can trust you in the hardest of circumstances because you are God!
TEACH ME TO COVER OTHERS' FAULTS
Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
“Pointing out your failure makes me feel superior.” This is a twisted thought that leads to slander and gossip. Can I truly love my fellowman and choose this destructive path? All humans are frail; we are all vulnerable; we have all sinned; we all have areas of weakness. Peter wrote that love covers these difficulties in others. Love takes no delight in revealing sin or "sharing" reports of failure or destruction. Love grieves and hurts when others fail. Love seeks to bind up the wounds, to support the weak, to protect the vulnerable, and to bring truth to the sinner. We must seek to love "deeply"-- deep enough to forgive faults, deep enough to restore our neighbor when he fails.
Covering a sin is not ignoring it. Rather, it is protecting our fellowman from destruction--from those who do not love him, from those who seek to destroy his reputation and his future, and from those who want to believe he is hopeless, helpless and cannot change. As we protect our brother from the "wolves,” we must also lovingly confront the issues, appeal for change, and lead the student toward repentance. We must believe that change is possible and that, through Christ, the student can choose to turn from his error and be completely restored.
Matthew 18:15-17 gives us instructions for dealing with offenses. We, as teachers, should deal with our students privately when they fail. We must not argue, confront, or embarrass students in front of the class. When students believe you are their advocate, they will become more open to receiving your counsel and your correction. Privacy is not always possible, but you can be careful not to shame the student as you discipline.
Love earns the right to discipline, the right to counsel, and the right to lead. This lesson also applies to relationships with fellow teachers. We must love our coworkers enough to support them in their weaknesses, and cover their faults before parents and students. Often parents, students, and teachers will bait us to see if we will participate in gossip toward church or school leaders, staff members, parents, students, or other teachers. Love does not discuss others' weaknesses; "love covers a multitude of sin.” Love understands the Matthew 18 principle of going privately to someone in error for the purpose of restoration.
Dear God, Help me to be sensitive to the emotional needs of those I must correct. Give me the wisdom to deal with each person with honor, respect, and love.
TEACHERS CAN BE BULLIES TOO
Ephesians 4:29, 32 (KJV) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. ...32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another...
According to https://www.stopbullying.gov/, Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior ... that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
When I was in high school, I joined Future Teachers of America (FTA) and was allowed to spend one day a month in a teacher's classroom at a local school. I was helping out in a third grade classroom when I observed a situation that I considered bullying from the teacher. The teacher had a spelling contest in progress that included a class reward if everyone in the class made no less than 90% on their spelling test. After the tests were graded, the teacher called a young boy to her desk and began to fuss at him in front of the class for not passing the test. She told him that she wished he had never moved to their town. She continued to say that he always messed up their contests and made everything worse for the class. Tears filled the boys eyes as he slumped his shoulders and returned to his seat. I assumed her goal was to shame him into doing better in his spelling tests. In my opinion, she bullied him.
Several times I have observed teachers who felt the need to motivate students by shaming them. A negative attack usually reaps a negative response. Students are not motivated by threats, put downs, or intimidation. They may cower to the teacher's authority outside, but inside they are building a wall of resentment each time the teacher is unkind or attacking. Ephesians 4 calls all of us to be careful with our words. We are instructed to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward our students. Our words are to be words of life that edify and build students up. These words are to encourage students to try harder and to believe that they can do better.
When you find yourself at your wits end with a student, it is better to excuse yourself for a minute or two to get yourself together, or to postpone consequences for the offense until you can deal with the situation in such a way that benefits the student. All discipline and correction should be for the student's benefit. It should never be for retribution.
Check your past behavior to see if you have used any bullying behavior in the way you dealt with your students. Let God change your heart and give you tenderness toward each of your students. Refuse to play the part of the “teacher bully”.
Dear God, Search me and know if there is any wicked way in me. Help me to be kind and tenderhearted to each one of my students. Forgive me for the times I handled things wrong, and help me to build the ability to respond like you in every situation that arises in my classroom.
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW CHRIST
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
I was 23 when I had my first child. I felt a little overwhelmed as they placed him in my arms and wheeled me out of the hospital to my car. I suddenly realized that this baby was my responsibility. I quickly learned the meaning of self-sacrifice. He didn't sleep much, required a lot of attention, and was reported as being the most demanding baby out of 72 babies in the hospital nursery. Nice quiet walks, hot baths, and time just for me were gone. My baby's very existence depended upon me denying my comforts to meet his needs. But I served him willingly because I cared deeply for him. He was God's gift to my husband and me.
When I entered the classroom, I was determined to be in charge. Things would be done the way I wanted them done. One of my co-workers, knowing that I was a new teacher, told me the thing that worked best for her was to be flexible. She explained that everyday unexpected things would happen, and flexibility would be the key to getting past the rough spots. My retort to her was, "Well, one thing I am not is flexible."
Guess what, she was right. Part of carrying my cross was to put aside my perfectionist attitude, my in charge approach, and my unbending schedule in order to serve the needs of my students. I gradually learned that it was not about me and my lesson plans as much as it was about the students and their success. I eventually realized that my students' success was my success and my students' failure was partly my failure. The more I owned the responsibility to see them succeed, the more I became willing to walk the extra mile with those that required it. God called me to help all of my students succeed, not just 80%.
I encourage you to discover what your personal cross is that God is asking you to bear. When you do, submit yourself to God, pick up your cross, and carry it with grace and love. Remember, when we cast our cares on Jesus, his burden will be light. You can find peace and contentment when you choose to accept your “personally assigned” cross. Remember, you never walk alone.
Dear God, Give me the courage to pick up my cross and follow you. Teach me flexibility and gentleness as I deal with all of my students.
RENEW YOUR STRENGTH
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (KJV)
How “alive” are you spiritually today? Have you fallen into the trap of being too busy for your personal devotions? Has your personal and school duties pushed aside your quiet times with God? If so, I urge you to find the “Secret Place” with God again. Your ministry will be affected when your spiritual fervor dwindles.
To win students to Christ, a teacher must have a vibrant, close and personal relationship with God. Your excitement and interest about the things of God will be a light in a dark world. Your students will only be drawn to Christ through your consistent lifestyle of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility and self-control.
Teaching is time consuming. There are papers to grade, reports to maintain, lessons to prepare, bulletin boards to create, and many other unending duties to do. It’s easy to begin to leave out your devotion time--not purposely, but from what seems to be necessity. Be careful; your light will become dim. You must stay connected to the source of spiritual light to shine. We are only the conduits of light. Without the source of power, our light will fade into darkness. Satan will encourage you toward activities—even good ones—so you have no time to grow spiritually. A sense of duty can be a trap. To always be there for your coworkers, your boss, your family members, your students, your friends, and your fellowman but neglecting your personal time in the Scriptures and prayer is like trying to give them a glass of water with an empty pitcher. You have nothing to pour out to others until you are filled up with God.
Go back to the place where you lost your first love. It is still there; rekindle the fire. Find a quiet place outdoors. Read Psalms 8 and Psalms 19 aloud. Read the Psalms aloud. Review the four Gospels. Begin to meditate on the Words of Jesus, the love of God, the beauty of His creation, and His faithfulness. As you wait before God privately, you will be renewed.
Dear God, Renew my mind and my spirit today. Help me to once again have that first love for you that made every morning new. As I wait before you and study your Word, give me fresh manna for today.
TEACH ME TO GLORIFY GOD IN MY SUCCESS
Psalms 75:6-7 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. 7 But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.”
Many men start their leadership role with the right goals and attitudes. They have good and just intentions. But, as time passes, their purposes blur and selfish ambition, greed, pride, rebellion, and other areas of sin begin to manifest. Why does this happen?
A leader's greatest success can be his greatest stumbling block for the future. Rewards and praise can bring over-confidence and self-sufficiency. Does that mean that we are never to praise or reward one another? No! But it does mean that we, as teachers and leaders, must be aware of the tendency to fail after experiencing success. Too many teachers and leaders tend to separate themselves from the people we have been asked to lead. Parents and others find it increasingly difficult to get an appointment. However, to affect the lives of those we lead, we must be available to them. If we are not careful, we will lose sight of our goals. We must daily remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit living within us is the creative force behind our success. We must choose to give God the glory for all things and continue to walk in lowliness of mind—in humility (not thinking of ourselves at all). (Philippians 2:3-4) Your success is from God. You will remain successful only as long as He wills it. Your response to success determines whether God can trust you with even greater success. Your leadership will either earn you more responsibility or cause you to lose position. God exalts, and God demotes. Your response to those you lead and to your daily duties will affect future promotions.
Matthew 23:11-12 says, The greatest among you will be your servant.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Humble yourself before God. Strive to serve the needs of those you lead. God will promote you in due season.
Dear God, Help me to keep my focus and priorities on you and your purposes. May the success you allow me to experience bring greater humility and recognition of the significance of who you are—the creator of all things, the all-knowing, all-present and all-powerful God of the universe. And, help me to remember who I am—a foolish thing (1 Corinthians 1:27) and a sheep that must have a shepherd at all times (1 Peter 2:25).