I've never really thought about it before but in some respects, my second grade class is a lot like the church. My second grade class is diverse. So is the church. My second grade class is made up of many different individuals with their own ways of doing things. So is the church. My second graders always want to be first and have difficulty sharing at times. Hmm...the church seems to have that problem at times as well. I think it's a problem more often than what we care to admit. My second graders can be extremely egocentric at times. On the other hand they can be extremely generous and forgiving. I think the church exhibits those characteristics as well. Oh, and my second graders are always extremely concerned about what someone else is doing. They're so concerned about it that they need to tell at least 15 people that so and so did or didn't do this. I can't send someone out of the room on an errand without at least five children reporting to me that so and so left the room.
So there you have it. I have twenty-eight wiggly seven and eight year-olds in one room. Although they are within the same age range, they come from different backgrounds, some speak a different language and they have a wide range of abilities. Do we have a common goal? Absolutely. We want to learn everything we need to know in order to be ready to go to third grade. This doesn't just magically happen. It takes hard work and a few of them fight it every step of the way.
In order to accomplish our goal (and to avoid complete chaos and anarchy), we have a few rules. At my school we have a saying. "Do your job." I take it a little further and I say "Do your very best job." School-wide we've boiled it down to four principals: respect, appropriate, patient and positive. I've added an additional R--responsible. My second graders have finally learned to stop whatever they are doing if I give them the "eye" and say "Do your very best job." They have learned that means you need to stop whatever you are doing immediately because they are not doing their very best job. I don't have to go into details as to what they should be doing. They already know what their job is.
When we started to follow Christ, we were given a job to do. We are to follow in his steps. We are to be ambassadors for Christ. We are his representatives in this world. This means we have to be responsible at our jobs, in our homes, in our communities, in our churches and in our relationships with others. We have to have respect for each other and for those in the world around us. This does not mean we embrace that which God has said is sin. Rather, this means we recognize that we were all created in the image of God and he loves each of us regardless of where we've been or where we're at. It means asking God to help us see each other as he sees us. When we see the person themselves rather than just their physical appearance or behavior we are able to truly love our neighbor as ourselves. This will enable us to act in an appropriate manner towards brothers and sisters in Christ as well as towards our neighbors in the world around us.
We need to learn to be patient with one another. God certainly is patient with us! Finally, we need to do regular attitude checks. You may say that you are a born pessimist. Stop that! You are a child of God. You have absolutely no reason to pessimistic. You're redeemed! God is your provider! God is your healer! God is your deliverer! God is your defender! God gives you a new song! The list goes on and on. Yes, everyone may feel some discouragement once in awhile and yes, I understand depression is a very real illness. However, if you're not suffering from depression (more than the blues) and yet you don't have any joy it's time to stop wallowing with the pigs and go stand before the Father. Believe me, it is impossible to be pessimistic when you are standing in God's presence. He is the God of Hope! Romans 15:13 (NIV)
When everyone does their job in my classroom, amazing things start to take place. Everyone gets along and works together. They help each other. Work gets done well in half the time and then perhaps...
My students hold their breath as I survey their work. They watch me intently as I look under their tables and in their folder baskets. Everything is in order. Their work was done carefully. I walk to the front of the room. Every voice is still and every eye is upon me. I smile and they smile back. Then they hear the words they've been waiting for. "You did your very best job and we have some extra time. It's a beautiful day. Let's head out for recess."
I want to do my very best job so that when the Father surveys my work he will say "You've done your very best job. Come home with me and receive your reward!" What a day that will be!
I sure do enjoy and get greatly edified by your posts regarding the children you teach. If I would have had a second grade teacher such as you back in prehistoric times when I was at that grade level, I am sure I would have turned out to be a much better man and a much better believer through the principles installed at such an early and impressionable age.
Truly the similarities with the spiritual are very real and true. I especially loved your ending in tying recess into our hope. Thanks for the wonderful blog post and enjoy the wild Indian Summer you folks are in for the next few days.
Dear k, What a wonderful blog. I love all of the comparisons you have made, and your heart for your children continues to shine out of your writing. I too would love to have been in your class but...as b2y reminds me, I too am from prehistoric times (earlier than b2y - just)! I have been watching my chooks (chickens to you) in the hope that I can glean great wisdom from them but it isn't working at the moment. Bless you heaps, kbird