Redemptive Educators: Here is how we survive the season! Augustine counsels for our souls; what would happen if we also applied this counsel to our homes and classrooms?
“Order your soul” – In these compressed weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sometimes the only thing we order is more stuff from Amazon! A different “ordering” may be “in order” – Instead of increasing the frenzy of our school day, what if we actually slowed down! What if we provided time for our students within the classroom to pause: to reflect: to put things in order in their desks, on the shelves, in the halls, in their heads? What if we modeled a kind of quietness, by sanctifying (“setting apart”) three minutes – two! – at the beginning or the end of a class period to silently give thanks to God for what we have had the opportunity to learn and to do?
“Reduce your wants” – Sometimes we “want” too much for this season at school. We “want” to put on an elaborate Christmas pageant, complete with costumes; decorate the classroom to make it the BEST in the school; come up with gifts for every child, (and, oh yes, for all those colleagues, too); do Christmas crafts with the kids; do a service project; and, don’t forget, cover all that curriculum we still haven’t covered; etc. etc. etc. – and folks, that’s just for school!! Repeat for church. Repeat for neighborhood. Repeat for home. Too much, too much: who can “repeat the sounding joy” in the midst of this crazy clamor? What if what we “want” for each day is to make sure that each child has encountered the Christ in our classroom?
“Live in charity” – What if we prayerfully decide that during Advent, we will not envy, criticize, quest to be the “best” but rather to demonstrate GRACE and GOOD WILL to every child, teacher, parent, administrator, neighbor, stranger, friend?
“Associate in Christian community” – In all that competes for your calendar this season, prioritize time with the Believers, to sing with the angels, and kneel with the kings, and worship with the shepherds, and together to “ponder all these things” in your hearts.
“Obey the law” – Maintain a steady fidelity to the requirements given to you by your country, your state, your district, your administrator: but keep it as simple as you can. One year, under a principal who required a Bible verse to justify every single lesson (and he thoughtfully provided a Big Red Book full of scriptures for use in justifying the teaching of everything from polygons to pronouns), a teacher complied by applying Psalm 24:1 to every lesson plan: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains; the world, and all who dwell in it.”
“Trust in Providence” – God assures us that “our times are in His hand” (Ps. 31:15) and that “all things are His servants” (Ps. 119:91). We can trust Him every minute, every hour, every day, every week to hold us, use us, bless us, protect us, maximize the fruit of our labor at home, at school, at church, in our communities.