I just read a devotional titled “Feeling Underappreciated?” There are times I feel like I don’t matter, or what I do doesn’t really affect anyone, and it would be nice for someone to acknowledge this or that area of my work. I thought this devotional might give me the thanks I was looking for. Instead, I ended up feeling like it was a whiny read and I don’t need to be inspired like that!
Who am I working for anyway? Must I hear from a parent/administrator/minister/friend those words of “thanks” or “great job” or “we couldn’t get along without you” to validate my work?
“To Tony, I’m just a bug!” This came from a student who was disappointed that Tony had not chosen him to help get the milk for our class. Sometimes feel like this too! I feel that my work, such as a lesson I had prepared, my students’ test results, or a project I completed, is not good enough. By extension, I am not good enough either. I’m just a bug.
Tommy indignantly told me, “Sheldon called me a worm!” I tried to turn this into a positive for Tommy since he loves science and critters. I also told him that the Bible says we are worms. I do understand his feeling of hurt, as sometimes I feel like I’m perceived as only a worm. (As I read a little on worms, I realize the Bible may not say that we are worms, but Psalm 22:6 says “I am a worm,” speaking of Jesus and humility.)
How do I deal with being a bug or a worm? For my students I reassure them that they are important, they are each special, and God loves them very much. We may do some lessons on valuing everyone and friendship. However, I do not want them to have an inflated feeling about themselves. I want to build their self-worth, but I believe there is also a place for correction, discipline, and discipling into right behaviors and attitudes.
For myself, I need humility. I need to avoid being puffed up. Like my students, I may need correction and discipline, and I need to follow my Master Teacher. I do need encouragement and affirmation, but I must remember who I am working for. Those over me may not recognize my work but I am ultimately working for the Lord and I need to be satisfied with His approval. And if my work is not in line with my Master’s approval, I need to take steps to line it up. I often pray that God would help me to serve well at school, and that He would put me in the roles where He would have me to be, and help me to fill that well. I may not be the best, but I need to do my best.
Let’s consider humility and self-concept using a protocol I’ll term NACC. I like to use this method of reflection in my learning, and this can also be applied with a class of most any level. Younger students might need some adaptation, but it is a good way to reflect on a lesson or the day. (I was assigned to use this in some of my grad classes. We had devotional readings in one class and then used this protocol. It was a good way to consider the reading and learning.) This method is:
New Thinking: What is new thinking for me from this reading/devotional/assignment?
Apply: How can I apply this to my schooling/life?
Challenge: What challenge does this present for me?
Comfort: What comfort can I find in this?
Let’s take a reading from 1 Kings 3:3-15, about Solomon. There are some good points on humility here. We’ll use NACC:
New thinking for me is in realizing how small Solomon felt when he became king. “I am but a little child,” he said. I usually think of Solomon as very confident, wise, and “with it.” It is interesting to think of him being this humble and teachable at the beginning of his reign.
The idea of being a child is intriguing to me. I think of how my students forgive, encourage, and love. I should apply their attitudes in my life. I can also apply this asking for wisdom. Too often when faced with a difficult situation I start to think and plan how I can solve this. I am trying to do it myself, when I need to pray and ask for wisdom first.
My challenge is to ask God for wisdom to lead in my classroom and school in a way that would please God and help others, and to listen to God and follow His wisdom. Thinking of teaching, I put myself in I Kings 3:7-9: “I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the students you have chosen. So give your servant a discerning heart to teach your children and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to teach these children of yours?” I need to think of pleasing God, helping others, and depending on God for the strength, wisdom, and humility to do that.
It is very comforting to think that God has everything I need. He has all the wisdom, greatness, love, strength, and encouragement that I need. He has it and He loves to share it! He knows I am more than a bug. He fills all my inadequacies with His generous provision.
CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt