When You Think You’re Doing It All Wrong


Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash If you’re on top of the world, this letter is not for you. Come back soon, on a day when you need it.

Dear Teacher,

I know you’re trying super hard. You started the school year with high hopes and good resolutions, but you’re feeling a little slumpy today, aren’t you? Maybe some of your systems didn’t work out, or took more maintenance than you expected. Maybe a child is resisting your best efforts to connect with him. Or you just can’t help another into the lightbulb moment she needs, in reading or subtraction or typing or obedience.

You might simply have too much to do, and feel important things are slipping through the cracks. Maybe you’re not getting the support you need, or your questions don’t have easy answers. Perhaps personal stresses are bleeding over into the classroom, and you feel you don’t have anything more to give.

I’m not even going to start on what might be happening with the school board, your relationships with fellow teachers, and the disturbed parents of the child you rebuked yesterday. I’m not going to mention the COVID health protocols and new ways of doing. (Oops. Too late.) Nor the fraught political scene, but I’m guessing your students have a few thoughts on that, don’t they? And might try sneaking them into history and lunch and recess, right after your brilliant devotional about being “in” but not “of” this world?

Believe me, I know you’re up against a lot this year.

Perhaps you worry you’re doing it all wrong, and that serious harm will come from your best efforts – not to mention your worst mistakes.


Let me tell you a mathematical impossibility, for starters. It’s impossible to do it ALL wrong. Let’s just clear that up right now. Some of the things you are doing are truly making a difference, and I don’t think you can step back far enough to see yourself and the hopeful changes you’re bringing. The children are better for having known you. (I mean, statistically this is likely. I don’t know you, but I’m sure at least half of them are glad they do. Can’t speak for the other half.)

Are you still able to laugh? Give thanks for this.

Second, it’s not only mathematically but also spiritually impossible to do it all wrong. Have you heard of the Redeemer, the great Second Chance Giver, the Savior? Do you know He is fully capable of arranging the evils and inadequacies of this world to accomplish His glorious purposes? Even if you were deliberately trying to do wrong, you couldn’t ruin His plans. And you are trying to honor Him, welcome His little ones, give sacrificially of yourself. You are in Him, and your success is not dependent on your performance, but on His goodness.

“For the word of the Lord is right and true;

he is faithful in all he does.

The Lord foils the plans of the nations;

he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,

the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Psalm 33:4, 10-11

Third, there are resources that can help you. Reach out for them. If it’s just a droopy evening, find a large mug of hot tea and some refreshing music. If it’s a hard week, get some good sleep and great protein this weekend. Spend time with somebody you love. If you’re regularly coming home discouraged or exhausted, day after day, talk to someone. See if you can outsource a few pieces of your job, cut a few extracurriculars, take regular times to recharge. Or seek additional training in your particular place of uncertainty. Your pastor and a YouTube tutorial might do the trick. It seems astonishing, but people can change. You can grow to become capable of things you weren’t before.

You’ve got this. Or more accurately, He’s got this, and He set you in this place for a reason.

“We wait in hope for the Lord;

he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,

for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,

even as we put our hope in you.”

Psalm 33:20-22

You’re doing fine. It’ll be okay.

Best of blessings,

One of the moms

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