Are you yelling at your students more than you used to? Easily frustrated by every little thing? Irritated whenever a child asks you a question?
It’s perfectly normal for Christian teachers to experience frustration and weariness at times. However, being constantly at the end of your rope and expressing a volatile temper or harshness towards small children is not acceptable. And that’s not just because God views your students as precious little ones- He views YOU as precious! He never wants you to feel discouraged or angry. It is God’s plan for you to walk always with gladness in His will!
Obviously there are lots of reasons we feel irritable, some of which are not in our control. Many frustrations come from the demands placed on us at work. However, I feel led to share this question with you:
Is there something happening in your personal life that is affecting
your ability to love your students?
The level of tolerance and patience I have towards my students has always been directly related to how much joy I have in my life outside of school. Before I was walking with the Lord, I remember being quite volatile at times with my students: one day I would be the model of patience, the next I overreacted to every minor infraction. During my first few years of teaching, I went through two major break-ups with people I had been in long-term relationships with, had serious conflicts with family members, and did not have the support of any real friends I could count on. Because I wasn’t depending on Christ to be a solid rock when things were crumbling around me, my problems would completely take over my mind. The children became an unwanted distraction from the things I was trying to work out in my head. I felt as though they were constantly interrupting my thoughts and inconveniencing me with their petty questions and problems.
Because Christ is the center of my life now, I’m on a much better path with many supportive and stable relationships. The difference Jesus has made in my life over the last few years completely transformed my attitude towards my students (and everyone else). The love that I feel from and for God spills over onto my kids quite naturally… most of the time. And when it doesn’t, I know to look to God for stability, turn my problems over to Him, and trust Him to work things out for my good. When I feel tempted to dwell on personal issues at work, I respond to the thoughts as just that- a temptation- and rebuke them. Those thoughts are not from the Lord and I don’t have to entertain them!
If you have any personal drama that is affecting your ability to fulfill God’s call on your life as a teacher, I encourage you (from my own experience) to confess your mindset as a sinful one. Acknowledge before the Lord that you have been letting anxiety and worry take over your mind, and claim His promises. He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are STAYED on Him. You can’t accept God’s peace when you’re holding onto your worries, convinced that if you ruminate on them long enough, you’ll come up with your own solution.
If your distracting issues are beyond your control and not a result of your sin (a sick family member, financial troubles), focus on giving your problems over to the Lord. You are responsible for your reaction to your problems. If your issues stem from sin in your life, such as harboring unforgiveness, you can confess that and ask the Lord to take it away. Exchanging a destructive mindset for a holy one will free you to give to your students in ways you never thought possible.
The battle to treat your students with love and respect is nothing less than spiritual warfare. The enemy thrives when we keep our minds focused on injustice and problems in our lives, because the bitterness and anger we have inside manifests in the way we treat others. The only way to see change is to resist the negative thoughts that distract you from your work and replace them with thoughts of God’s promises to bless and keep you. Fully trust in Him and don’t lean on your own limited understanding of your life situations. Look to Him as the only and ultimate source of joy. The mental stability and peace you experience will overwhelm you and overflow onto your students in consistent and astounding ways!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phillipians 4:6-7)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)