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August is just around the corner. Where are you? Still savoring the smells from your backyard grill? Still soaking up the sun at the pool or beach? What? You’re not already back in the classroom, inhaling a new box of Crayolas and basking in the fluorescent glow? Don’t panic if your heart’s not in it yet or if you’re afraid it won’t ever get there this year. God is with you, no matter “where” you are in mentally preparing to teach, no matter what challenges or changes you face this year, and no matter how far you’ve strayed from the enthusiasm you once had when you first started teaching. Read on for four encouraging ideas to help mentally move you in the right direction.
- Be in the Word. You knew that would be the first one, didn’t you? Of course! That’s how God will speak sweet words of cheer and comfort to your waning heart. Read about Elijah, who had a fainting heart. He was burned out after the burnt altar incident. God sent an angel to minister to Elijah and then spoke to him in a quiet, soothing voice, giving him strength to persevere. God reminded Elijah that he was not alone in his ministry. God knows what you need to hear—whether it’s a powerful voice or a gentle whisper. Read about Abraham, who had to wait TWENTY-FIVE YEARS until God’s promise about a child was fulfilled. Did his heart wane? God provided patience and strengthened Abraham’s faith to trust in His Word. Even if things aren’t working out as you think they should, God is forever faithful, even when your faith falls short. Read about Moses, who led God’s people for forty years in the wilderness and then never got to enter the Promised Land himself. How his heart burned as the stubborn Israelites complained and forsook Yahweh! God spoke to Moses and gave him the words to speak to the incessant complainers. “[God] gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29–31).
- Remember why you first started teaching. Do you still have a copy of something you wrote about that topic during college? Pull it out! Do you need to make a new list? Do it! Write a top ten list; once you get going, you might not even be able to stop at ten. Do you love children? Do you want everyone to know about our Savior, Jesus? Do you want to make a difference in people’s lives? Do you like the variety each day brings? Do you like to have a creative outlet? Do you like summers off? (Hey! Erase that. You can’t put that one on this list!) Though circumstances in your life may have changed drastically since you first pondered why you would want to become a teacher, have your reasons really changed all that much?
- Look back on teacher appreciation sentiments you’ve received over the years. Do you have a bulletin board of colorful artwork in your room from children who love you? Do you have “under $20” gifts from parents strewn across your desk and room? Have you kept cards from thoughtful parents over the years who took the time to share how much you’ve touched their lives? You may not be able to bottle up and store all the hugs and smiles from the children, but if you don’t already stash some things like these in a box that can be pulled out for “days like these,” start now. Because, yeah . . . you really are appreciated. Yeah, you really are making a difference. You just might need to remind yourself of that more often.
- Surround yourself with encouraging, inspiring colleagues. Ditch the drama of the chronic complainers who wear you down. (Did I really say that out loud? I meant to politely say that you should take a break from solving the world’s problems and just let God minister to them for a while . . . without your help for a while.) Is there some exuberant staff member who just emanates enthusiasm for teaching? That’s where you want to be. Catch some of the passion. Don’t worry. I don’t think you’ll feel jealous; I think you’ll be inspired when you surround yourself with others who have heart. Their love of teaching just might be contagious, and it’s worth trying to catch, especially if your heart needs healing. But no matter how stellar or lackluster your colleagues are, I pray that your staff can support one another, pray with one another, bear with one another’s burdens, and be united in ministry together. Teaching should not be an individual sport. Find comfort from your co-workers as you all strive to share Christ and do God’s will.
I don’t know “where” you are today, but I do know that you are never too far away from the Lord. I pray that God’s presence fills you with peace now that the new school year is almost here. Read Psalm 51 to remind yourself that it is the Lord who will renew you and open your lips with His praise. May He restore unto you the joy of His salvation and uphold you with His Spirit!
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