You see, I have always been one of those people who just couldn't say that simple two letter word: N-O. "Ms. Baker, we are starting a committee at school. Could you be a member?" "Stella, we are doing this event for the youth at church. Would you be willing to come and do crafts?" It finally got to the point where it was a personal joke between my husband and myself. It is usually a toss-up about which one of us will actually take on the one last task that will put us over the edge and, for a while, overwhelm us.
It came as no real surprise to me that "SERVICE" was one of the triggers that showed up on my list when I completed the online survey. I think that is why I got into teaching in the first place. I really like to teach a lesson or do an activity that is the incentive for personal growth within a student. When I see that light come on within one of my students I know that I have actually played a part in their growth- that knowledge gained.
The Bible, of course, is full of references about service. There is verse after verse about using your strengths to help those who are in need.
As I read through some of them this week, some of them really stuck out to me.....
Isaiah 58:10 says:
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
Sometimes I really doubt whether I am doing anyone any good. Do the little things that I say or do REALLY matter? Is anyone REALLY affected by them? The answer is a resounding YES!!!
I think first of my students, as those are the people with whom I spend the most time during the week.
This is my twenty ninth year in the classroom and, over the course of those years, I have seen many changes within my students. There are more of them than ever who lack self-esteem. Just today, as my classes were working on poems about what made them unique, I had at least two students who told me that they could not think of anything positive about themselves: no personal strengths, no talents, no abilities. It made me so sad. Students such as these are definitely afflicted and hungry for attention and praise.
When I see a student who is need of a little boost in confidence and I take the time to sit and talk with him or her about the weekend or about what they have planned for after school, I am affecting that child. When I give one of my students the 50 cents to pay a forgotten library fine, it may seem like a small thing to me, but to them it may be a big thing.
As I get nearer and nearer to retirement I sometimes find myself asking, "Why should I go on?" It is because of the ones that I do reach that I stay.
1 Peter 4:10 reads:
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
This is another reason that I believe I am in the right place when I am in the classroom. I can remember being in high school and sitting with the younger children on that long bus ride home, keeping them company and talking with them about their day. I can remember helping with 4H lessons, camp, and vbs at church. With each small task that I undertook, God was grooming me- grooming me for the role of teacher.
My mom kept a little keepsake book throughout my years in school. You probably have seen them- a pocket for each year to hold keepsakes, a place to record things like height, weight, favorite teacher, and favorite subject. One of the last lines at the bottom of that pocket was the one that read, "When I grow up, I want to be a _____________." As I flip through that book I notice that every single year, with the exception of 1, I had written "teacher". I think that I always knew that God had blessed me with the ability to teach others, whether it be teaching them to read those tiny little sight words that begin the journey toward reading, teaching them to simplify a basic algebraic equation, or teaching them about God's love and forgiveness.
As I near the end of my teaching career, I find myself looking for the next route, the next gift that God would have for me to share. I know that my real teaching days will never end, but I want to continue to be of service to him throughout my entire week. I am praying that God would help me find whatever that service might be in the years after I leave the classroom.
A while back, I heard the following song by Sidewalk Prophets and I immediately felt an affinity for it. I know that it is not entirely about service to God, but I took the words to mean that I need to do everything I can to help others see God within me, and that includes serving him, never witholding of the talents that he has given me. Listen to the words and I hope they can be a blessing to you as well. Please leave a comment telling me what their message is for you!