They always say that as a teacher, you learn more than your students. Which I never really thought about until I started teaching.
Let me preface this by saying that I never wanted to be a teacher. It’s not really in my nature. I have friends (a lot of friends actually) who are teachers. They are all talented, beautiful people and are brightening the futures of our children every day.
That’s not me. A classroom full of little minds to mold was never my dream. However, sometimes we are put into roles in life that we aren’t necessarily called to and that’s how I found myself teaching at church. I’ve taught the younger kids for a long time, but recently, I moved up (or down, depending on how you look at it) in the rankings and I’m now teaching our Wednesday night youth group, which consists of jr. high and high school.
I feel the need to mention that while I was moved to this position, I was still not given van driving privileges. My brother told them that I didn’t need to be in charge of driving a van full of kids, so they put him on the list instead. So, I promptly planned a youth trip to the corn maze and made him drive us.
Back to teaching, though. I don’t know who seemed to think I was qualified for this. I rarely have lesson plans and spend most of my time talking about what I want to talk about. So, they just listen to me ramble. The cool thing about not having lesson plans is that you can truly experience the Lord speaking through you. That’s such an abstract idea, until it happens and then you know, without a doubt, what that feels like.
Last week, I was worn out. I had just gotten off work, rushed over to church (late as usual) and had absolutely nothing to teach about. I didn’t have a Bible story in mind, no wisdom to impart. And I had 15 crazy teens who were loud and rambunctious and I just didn’t really think I could handle it. But, once I got them calmed down, we started talking.
It’s kinda magical when you get teens talking about serious subjects and hear their ideas. (Almost) all of their goofy, awkward, wild personalities fade into the background and you can see who they are as people.
We’ve been talking about our relationships with God. About what we’ve been told about God versus what we really know and believe for ourselves about who God is in our lives and what roles He fills for us.
I told them that I had always been told that God was faithful. I was raised in church, I’ve been told and taught a lot of things about who God is. But until I experience that for myself, do I truly believe that or is it just an idea in my head? Until I experienced God’s faithfulness, I didn’t really know what that meant.
The night that I had nothing to teach, we began by talking about how we view ourselves versus how God views us. A lot of the kids that we have at church come from hard situations, where one or both parents aren’t really in the picture. I had read a quote earlier in the week about how kids become what they are told that they are. So much of who we feel like we are or what we feel we’re capable of is based simply on what we’ve been told we are, what we’ve been told we can do.
As I began talking about this, I shared with them from Psalm 139, where David is talking about how the Lord knew us before we were born, how He planned out all our days before we even existed. That sounds like a God who loves us quite a bit. But as I looked at the faces of these kids, I knew that some of them were hearing this for the first time. I knew that some of them hadn’t been told that they were loved very much. We went on to talk about how if God knew us before we were born, that meant that none of us were accidental. Whether our parents had planned for us to be here or not, we had a Heavenly Father that planned out every single one of our days. The looks on a few faces made my heart hurt a little bit. To feel unwanted or like an accident is tragic. But, how much greater does the love of the Lord wash down over that situation?
These were definitely not my words that were being poured out that night. I can’t take claim to any of that. I showed up as an empty, tired vessel with nothing to give. But, the Lord always supplies.
They say you learn more as the teacher than as the student. Yes, I’m learning the differences between a concert trombone and a marching trombone. I’m learning about soccer, the lifecycle of lice, and about ninjas (yes, all real conversations, I can’t make this stuff up). But, really, I’m learning so much more. More about myself. More about them. And more about God and how very much He loves us. Way more than I ever bargained for.