". . .the word of God is not bound." II Tim. 2:9b

Friday, November 13, 2015

Survival Challenge

Every teacher faces adversity. In the school setting, adversity can be present in the little things, such as a student who hasn't done her homework, a carefully-planned lesson that tanks, a gossiping coworker, an overly sensitive parent, or even profanity in the halls. Sometimes, though, it's a situation more difficult to navigate, and your job is on the line. The challenge is to endure.

"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." II Tim. 2:3

I keep wondering if this will be the year when I finally have smooth sailing and I start to feel like a pro (in case you're wondering, the answer to that question is always, "Dream on."). In fact, sometimes it seems like the more training I pursue, the more carefully I plan, the more hours I put in, the less I am appreciated and the tougher my job becomes. The result is, it's tempting to slip into Survival Mode instead of Proficiency Mode.

This year--my tenth as an employee in the public school system--has presented numerous survival challenges. To my surprise, the worst of them have centered around communication failures on my part. What? I'm a writer! I should have the communication thing down! And yet communication is a broad field strewn with landmines that do not discriminate between civilians and seasoned soldiers. Just as a marriage has to be tended and maintained through struggles, so teachers must constantly (and humbly!) hone their communication skills. It might get harder before it gets easier.

This November, I've had a new rash of communication challenges. To help me stay in a Proficiency frame of mind, I've been offering prayers of thanksgiving for some of the good gifts in my life right now. For example, I'm thankful for a supportive husband who is there for me when I'm getting behind on my professional development class. I'm thankful for coworkers who pray with me and for me. I'm thankful for God's watch-care over my children. And Clemson's still unbeaten!

If you're facing adversity, the true survival challenge is to offer thanks in the midst of it all. Colossians 3:17 says,

"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

And in James,

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." (NASB)

Maybe next year will be the year when you have smooth sailing. Maybe not. But God does have a future for you and your special talents. Right now he's working in you to prepare you for that task. You'll need endurance, and this is how you get it.

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