Monday, August 11, 2008


(written on November 8, 2005)

“It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details.” -- Ephesians, 3:7

When I read this passage in the Bible this morning, I realized that it was precisely what I needed to overcome my sense of discouragement about my teaching. For many years, I have been trying to “make myself” into a super teacher, which has inevitably led to periods of discouragement. I guess I have thought of myself as a sculptor trying to mold a statue of a perfect teacher, or as a coach trying to develop a perfect baseball player, and discouragement has always set in when I have seen that the goal is a long way off. I have seen myself, in other words, as the creator, the boss, the president, the guy in charge – with all the pressure and occasional discouragement those labels suggest. This wonderful statement by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians helps me to understand that I have been completely wrong, utterly misguided, in my approach to teaching. What happens in my classroom does not happen because of me. In fact, I am simply a part of what happens, just as a small branch on a tree is a part of the whole tree as it rustles in a breeze. The Universe (what some people call God) “handles all the details”, as Paul puts it. The grand, infinite, and ever-harmonious Universe – the master sculptor and coach – gives each thought and action that occurs in the classroom. It’s not something I create or plan or organize or control or am responsible for or need to feel guilty about. It’s God’s gift, moment after moment, all a “sheer surprise”. Understanding this marvelous truth this morning, I can be totally relaxed as I enter the classroom – just as relaxed as I would be walking into a movie theater. What wonderful surprises are in store for me today? What has the grand film-maker, the Universe, planned for my students and me today?

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