"Why don't you listen when I say it nicely the first three times? How come you don't do what I ask you to until I raise my voice?"

Maybe you've never said that to your students, but my guess is that you've noticed the same thing I do- many times kids just don't listen until we get serious! It's infuriating when they don't do what we say, especially when we're just trying to protect them from the consequences of a poor decision.

Teachers experience this daily: we write five notes and give ten verbal reminders to return field trip money and someone doesn't pay attention: now it's the day of the trip and the child is crying inconsolably. "WALK in the hallway!", we chide fifteen times a day... and sigh inwardly when someone inevitably trips and falls. And there's the bigger stuff, too: we all have a child who never completes homework (or classwork) no matter how many lectures or incentives or conferences we have; we watch helplessly, wondering how s/he will ever make it to the next grade. Sometimes that's compounded by the child (or parent) who doesn't even seem to care when this happens, brushing off our admonishings in a way that makes it quite clear that education is dead last on the list of priorities.

While disciplining our students is one of the least fun parts of our job, God tells us very clearly that correction is an essential part of growing up, both physically and spiritually. As you read this passage from Hebrews 12:5-11 (NIV), consider both your role as an authority figure over children and also your role as a child of God:

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Why do we correct our students? Because we believe we know what's best for them. We want to instill the right attitudes and behaviors in them so they can be successful. Nothing is more infuritating than a child who refuses to listen to correction and intentionally, willfully disobeys.

Imagine how our Father must feel when he chastens us for the same offense, over and over and over! And how much more perfect is His discipline- we do what we think is best, but God KNOWS what's best. His commands are righteous and if we follow them, the results will always work together for our good. Can we have the childlike faith that it takes to say, "Yes, Lord. I don't want to do it, I don't understand why I have to do it, but out of respect for who you are, I will"?

There is a peace in our classrooms when students submit to our training, come under our authority, and follow the guidelines we have set forth. Everyone learns more. There is a feeling of contentment and order.

If only we could hold ourselves to the same standards we hold our students.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Ms.Powell for your wonderful devotionals! I'm so glad I found your site. The words God gives you to speak his awesome messages brings me to tears! I'm a first year teacher in a public school, and have found it very difficult to share my faith with my students and other staff members. This month's devo came just at the right time...when I felt so burnt out over discipline and so many other issues. Your devotionals always encourage me to model Christ-like behavior, even when it's so difficult! You are a blessing!

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Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ms. Powell, for you awesome reflections on God's Word to help teachers in their classroom setting. I "stumbled" (that's the Holy Spirit's work, huh?) on your sight by typing in teacher devotionals on Google and you popped up! What a blessing!I help facilitate a Parents in Prayer group weekly at our children's middle school and I insert one of your wonderful, encouraging devotionals into the teachers' notes that we send them to remind them that we are praying for them. I love the Biblical perspective you give to teachers as they deal with the everyday challenges of the classroom. I know God is using them in a mighty way to transform minds and change lives. My daughter hopes to be a teacher someday, and I pray that she will be the kind of witness to her students that you are. May God bless you for your obedience and boldness.
In Him and to the Glory of His Name,

Anonymous said...

Here I sit..in awe of how faithful and good God is to those who love him. Your website has been an incredible blessing this New Year's Day. I have been a teacher in the public school system for 16 years, I also teach Sunday School, I am a wife and mother. It is so easy to get off track with the business of the world. Your devotionals encouraged me once again to go to Christ for my strength. Our daily time with Him is vital for us to maintain His light in this world.
Thank you and bless you.