Recently, I have again been reminded of my need for humility. I have so much to learn; especially when it comes to classroom teaching. I want to take criticism graciously so that I can continually be improving. Classroom management has been different here when it is necessary to cover material that the child will be tested on, rather than simply keeping most kids quiet and engaged during a Sunday School lesson.
Last night, a Bible Study I have been participating in was reading through James 1. Several of us kept coming back to verse 5, which says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” I know that I could definitely use wisdom right now as I am learning to teach. This verse clearly points out that the first step to obtaining wisdom is to openly admit you lack it and to humbly ask for it from God. Upon reading this verse, a picture came to me of a very familiar scenario from the past couple of weeks. Multiple times I have finished a lesson and given a corresponding assignment, after repeating myself several times and giving the opportunity for clarifying questions. Just when I think I have actually explained myself well and all my kids are busily working through their assignment, one child will raise their hand. I call on them, thinking they have a specific question about their worksheet, and as I notice their page is blank they say, “Miss! What are we supposed to be doing? I don’t understand.” Nothing could be more frustrating in teaching than that moment. By the way, “Miss” is a cultural thing here in Mexico. Even the Spanish teachers are called “Miss” (of course you should say this with a cute Spanish accent). It is more like a title for teacher. For example, I have several times heard someone say, “Go ask the Miss.”
So when I read James 1:5, I get a mental picture of us as believers being in a classroom. God has just given us everything we need for life and godliness in the Bible, He has given us countless practical experiences of His faithfulness in our lives, and He has given us His Spirit within us as a guide. He has also given us our “assignment” in the Bible, primarily to bring Him glory and to make disciples of the nations, but He has also given us detailed instructions about how we can fulfill these things. But we are so quick to forget and to lose focus, like we are children. We forget what our task is or think we don’t know enough to complete it. Do you know what is even more frustrating than “Miss!”? When they do not ask, keep on doing their own thing, and turn in a blank page at the end of the period. When we realize that we lack the necessary knowledge or wisdom to do what He has called us to do, we need to ask for it, in humility. Yes, maybe we should have been paying better attention in the first place, but as soon as we realize our fault and have a desire to be complete and lacking nothing, we need to immediately go to our teacher about it.
The best part of this image is God. The verse describes Him as giving generously to all without reproach. Now as a teacher, when a child raises their hand half way through the assignment, and admits that they haven’t been paying attention at all and do not know what they are supposed to be doing, my human (and inexperienced teacher) side is not pleased (to put it mildly). I want to make them feel uncomfortable that they have missed information so that they will pay better attention next time. I usually remind them that the rest of the class will have to wait on them to finish, that they should be better focused in class, etc. etc. Fortunately, God is very different in His teaching. Instead of the deserved reproach, God deals generously with us. He says, “You asked for wisdom, here it is. I’m so glad you asked. Do you need any more? Because I’ve got more to give.”
Dear God, please give me the wisdom to know how to serve my students best. And please give me the humility to ask for help from you and from the wonderful people you have put around me. Thank you that you don’t reproach us for having to ask.