Monday, August 29, 2016

Why are you taking this class?

In my Senior Theology class, the students begin each day with silent reflection and journal writing, attempting to verify with their own experiences the relevancy of the quote or passage given to provoke.  In the moments following, I offer students the opportunity to share their reflection, comments, or further questioning that was prompted in their thought.  On Friday, the questions for consideration were related to the purpose of being in my class.  Besides a mere graduation requirement, I challenged the students to consider what purpose this class would serve in the journey towards realizing their destiny.

One of my students responded.  He began to describe how his prejudgments of taking Church History included the belief that it would basically be another class of receiving information to remember and recite.  After just one week in class, he indicated that his perception had already changed.  He recognized that the way in which information was being offered in class was meant to provoke and engage his entire person.  He was being challenged to judge the information presented in terms of his experience.  Looking forward, he commented this method was preparing him for life, teaching him how to think.

At the beginning of each year, I tell all of my students, “I’m not here for you to take my ideas as your own.  My job as an educator is to give you a method for which to judge the things I will teach you.”  To my seniors in Church History, I add, “And this method is based on experience of over 2000 years.”  I was struck by the reaction from this student because it corresponded to the desire I have for my classroom to be an environment in which each of my students might flourish.  It was also a call to something greater, a reminder of how my actions, words, as well as deeds unseen affect more than myself.  Everyday, I am faced with the reality of being a source of inspiration or failing to inspire.  Lord, give me the grace to see that the students I accompany are also accompanying me in my own journey towards realizing my destiny.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Playing for Something Other than Ourselves

It was the start of the Griffins inaugural Varsity Volleyball season, and we were headed to a tournament at Roxana High School.  Before we got on the bus, my girls huddled together in the hallway with both nervous and excited energy.  The captains of the team lead the group in prayer.  I was struck by what happened next.  “Lord, let us remember tonight that we are playing for something other than ourselves – that we are playing for someone – playing for Him.”  The prayer concluded, the cheering followed, and the eager dash for the bus ensued.

I was amazed by the attitude of the girls playing on the volleyball court.  The other coaches and referees recognized it, too.  “They never gave up” and “No matter what the score, those girls always had a positive attitude on the court.”  Even though the Griffins were out-skilled by the competition, the team fought to never let the ball hit the floor.  They fought for each other, coming together with positive encouragement after every rally, point or no point.  The tears after the game were not because of the loss, but because they had given themselves completely.  They played for something other than themselves.

This is the capacity of every human heart.  We are inspired by athletes who demonstrate positive energy, who sacrifice for their team, who play for something other than themselves.  We are inspired because our hearts were made for the same greatness, and what we observe triggers this desire.  I often get wrapped up in the details of daily tasks, forgetting that the gifts I’ve been given are meant to be used for His glory, not my own.  But it is always in front of the other that the desires of my heart are surfaced and I remember for whom I am living.

Thank you, girls.