The Teacher and the Trash Can

17 Aug


Life has been busy.  I have not been able to blog for a couple days.  Such is the life of a teacher.  The first couple of weeks (teacher days and then the students coming back) can be jam-packed and tiring.  I am exhausted today.  It was the first day back for the students.

I had the idea for this post a couple of weeks ago, and even set it up to start writing.  Something came up (one of the other posts I actually wrote), and I put this to the side.  On my way home from school, I realized it was a lesson that I need to revisit for myself…and it works out to be quite timely since it is a story about teaching, or at least my role as a teacher and a challenge God gave me.

Get ready, kids, today is going to be about humility.

Last week I talked a lot about my testimony and what God is doing in my life.  What I am about to tell you about happened during the time of God really moving in my life and causing all of the big changes in my heart (My Time Travel Testimony and What’s in a Name: Jesus, Jesus, Bo-Bes…).  I was in a real place of the Spirit speaking to me constantly and challenging me in my everyday life.  He is still moving in me, it just felt more present because it had been a while since I was this close in my relationship to him.

Well anyway, I was really trying to be genuine in my dealings with my students and others.  I was really trying to get to know my students so I can be a better teacher to them, and one of the best times to do this was at lunch.  I had a few guys that would sit with me, and we would talk and joke around most days.

One of the days, near the end of lunch as I was about to take my trash and throw it away, one of the guys (a real character) says, “Mr. B, take my tray.”

I laughed at him, as I usually did, because he tried this once a week or so.  But that day it was different.  I felt a nudge in my heart to go ahead and take his trash.  I looked at him, and then said, “Okay.”  I took his tray and dumped it.

Needless to say, he was a bit surprised.  After I came back from the trash can, the Spirit started working again.  By the time I was back to my seat, I had a challenge: dump more trays.  I almost ignored it.  I really wanted to sit down.  I just about did…but I knew what I had to do.  I knew that if I sat, the Spirit would do a work on my heart becuase of my selfish and proud attitude.  I swallowed that pride and took trays from the students at my table and dumped them.

It was quite humbling.  I do not know what was worse, the laughs and stange looks from the students or the wondering eyes from other teachers.  It was a difficult task, especially because I could only carry a couple of trays at a time.  It took quite a few trips, but I got through it.  I learned my lesson.  I will not be prideful.

The next day…challenged again.  Dump more trays.  I did for my table again.  Thanks, God.  I got it.  I am prideful.  I will work on it.  Please help me work on it.

Day three…the Spirit spoke to my heart again: more trays.  Once more, I dumped the trays at my table.  Lesson learned?  No.

The next week (day three was on a Friday)…Dump more trays…MORE trays.  I dumped the trays at my table.  MORE TRAYS.  I dumped trays for the surrounding tables.  Am I done yet, God?

Everyday the challenge was for more trays.  By the end of the week I was dumping the trays of most of the students that I taught.  In the coming weeks the challenge got to the point that I was dumping which ever trays I could get to.  I started to want to dump trays for more students.  The challenges continued for a month or two.

What I found that happened was I stopped wondering when I would learn my lesson.  I actually started to like the humbling effect.

It helped me truly care about my students.  It is hard not to care when you are throwing away their garbage.

It made me more patient with my students.  It is hard not to be more patient when you are literally serving them in a real way.

More than this, though, it showed me some major heart issues.  The biggest one came up when I had the thought, “Why am I doing this?  These kids don’t deserve this.”

This was another slap-in-the-back-of-the-head moment for me.  What immediately came to mine is, “Why did I die for you?  You did not deserve it.  I did it because I love you.  Now I need you to show the same love for others.”  That shut me up.  A smile went on my face, and it was back to business.  I think this was the turning point when I started to enjoy the “challenges”.

Humbling is hard.  The breaking down of pride is painful.  But it is good.  And this is what really starts the process of conforming us into the image of Christ.

If you want a challenging message, we recently had a sermon from Proverbs about humility at my church.  Check it out, but be ready for a challenge of your own!  Humility and How I Achieved It by Bill White at Grace Church in Greenville/Powdersville.

What do you think about this?  How has God taught you about your pride issues?  What challenges has he given you?  Please share with the group.  🙂

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