This is a repost written during my first year of teaching in Asia (2007-2008). May these words written years ago be a fresh encouragement today.
When students are over-talkative in class, their mean teacher kindly asks them to stand up. This happens fairly regularly, like every day. Girls love to talk.
[Especially teen-age girls. Especially teen-age girls in China. Especially teen-age girls in China in English class—who gleefully take advantage of the fact that their mean teacher is far-from-fluent in their native Chinese language of Mandarin, nor has he dreamt of studying their local Shanghainese dialect.]
When their mean teacher asks them to stand, they whine. When they whine, their mean teacher tells them to stand. They stop whining. They stand. Their mean teacher does not enjoy doing this.
Nara was very talkative one day last week. She was actually talkative several days last week. I am glad my students are consistent. Perhaps I instilled this in them as I consistently asked them to stand. (Yes, I am the mean teacher, I admit).
Nara was asked to stand. Nara stood. Nara stopped talking. English was taught. Class was going well. Nara, however, did not enjoy standing.
Joyze was sitting beside Nara. Joyze looked up at me with her overwhelming look of innocence and said, “Teacher, can I stand for her?”
“Yes, that is fine.”
“Thank you, teacher.”
Joyze stood and Nara sat. Nothing was said. No students erupted in whining pleas because of an injustice done in the classroom. Nothing. Tacit understanding. Learning continued.
The mean teacher observed in silent wonder.
The concept of punishment is universally understood. Wrongs have wages. The concept of justice is universally understood. Wages must be paid. The concept of substitution is universally understood. Payments are not always paid by the individual in debt.
My debt is paid. This is mercy. This is grace. This is good news. This mean teacher is in daily need of this mercy and grace to walk worthy of this good news.
“The gospel is not complicated; it’s just mind-blowing.” –John Piper (related video here)