Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bad Kids and a Good God

When I began substitute teaching, I viewed my work as a ministry opportunity. Each day before I taught in an elementary school, I would walk around the room and silently pray for each name on the desk.  If I was in middle school or high school, I would sit with the class lists for each period and pray over the student names before school, or I would walk around the room while students were quietly working and pray for them silently during class.

It was helpful when I had been at a place before, because then I had specifics to pray for with each kid.  Common ones were focus, friends, self-worth, make good choices, etc. I enjoyed praying for the students, and saw it as a powerful gift I could give them.

I've been having some challenges in a particular classroom recently. There are some students who somehow change the atmosphere of the entire classroom with their poor choices and lack of self control.  I feel the majority of the teaching day is spent reminding them of things they're supposed to be doing, and because I'm focusing on them so much, I miss opportunities to encourage and support the kids who are following directions consistently.

And the worst part of the whole situation?  I've been forgetting to pray.

A few weeks ago it hit me that I have not been praying.  In all of the excitement with adoption updates and all of the work that goes into prepping for the elementary days, I've been forgetting to pray.  I began lifting up those particular students go God, and praying for Him to soften my heart toward them and help me know how to care for them.

You know what happened?  God said yes.

On a Monday a few weeks back, I was reminded in my church small group of a philosophy I had about 10 years ago.  When someone was bothering me, or I didn't have as much love in my heart for them as I wanted, I would try to picture them as an infant.  I remembered that they were somebody's baby, and at some point in their life, someone held them, cooed to them, and watched them sleep.  They are precious to somebody here on earth, and even more precious to God.  This often worked to change my heart and help me love people more. 

After that night at small group, I'm not sure if I consciously prayed to God to help me picture these frustrating students as babies, but you won't believe what happened.  One of them had a baby book with them  There was no reason for that student to have the book in school, they just did.  I asked them to show me the pictures, and the student proceeded to go through the entire book and told me about each photo.  I didn't have to work hard to view that student as somebody's baby because there were all of the pictures, showing that they were loved and adored by their parents.  My heart softened toward that student.

I also feel that God has been giving me wisdom and insight into the gifts these particular students may have.  I've had the opportunity to see them excel in some areas, and I have been encouraging them to continue pursuing those talents. 

My tone and approach with them has changed because my heart has changed.  Thanks be to God!

No comments:

Post a Comment