"Sure, I still make mistakes. I'm still tempted, and make bad choices. But the difference now that I've rededicated my life to Christ is that I'm quicker to run back to him. It doesn't take me so long to recognize the wrongs, and I don't hold onto them with such stubbornness."
I heard a Christian make this comment last night, and I thought she did a great job addressing the problem of sin in the life of a believer. We will never achieve perfection, but as we grow closer to God and become more sanctified, we should find ourselves returning to the right path more quickly than we used to.
That also made me think about my students. Many times I get frustrated that they're still engaging in the same misbehaviors since August (or worse, since kindergarten). I wonder how they can continue to make such bad choices, forgetting that *I* do the same thing.
Maybe instead of focusing so much on the frequency of misbehavior, I should be focusing on how long it takes the children to return to the right behavior. Little Johnny might lose his temper three times a week (which is not much of an improvement from five times a week), but if he's able to regain control after ten minutes instead of pouting all day, that's a changed heart. He might still hurt his classmates, but if he willingly apologizes afterward, that's a changed heart. He may need a million reminders to follow directions, but if he self-corrects now without talking back, that's a changed heart. Change is a process, and each step along the way should be honored and appreciated.
It's easy to become discouraged when our attempts to instill values and self-discipline just don't seem to sink in with certain students. However, more improvement will be realized when we emphasize not only how to make right choices, but how to make things right AFTER students have done wrong. We must foster attitudes of repentance and explicitly teach reparation skills.
Lord, quicken my heart to Your chastening in my own life. Open my eyes so I can bear witness to my students' improvements. Give me the patience and grace needed to nurture in them a quick return to right attitudes. Help me teach them to resolve conflicts and rectify problems in a way that glorifies You. Show us all how to return to the right path with a quickness.