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Having Done In Room 1501, (week 1)

 

Room 1501 pic The first week of Joy Christian School is  behind me,  and as a 1st year school teacher, it  has been a  great learning experience for me.  What a wild  ride to have back to back classes 6  times in a  row…M-F in a row, with sophomores, juniors and  seniors.  This first week, we simply covered some overview things and talked overview of the Bible.  Who is God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and other Essential discussions of expectations and requirements.

The most dramatic moment this week for me was giving each of my, more than 100 students, a 3×5 card to write the answer to this question… “What is the Bible to you?”   I let them know they could answer that anonymously.  I wanted them to be honest…and some were brutally honest.  I rec’d answers that were full of depth What is the Bible picand personal understanding towards to the Bible.  Several answers came in…and I qoute… “It’s just another stupid book.”  The picture to the right is of the pile of cards I have the privilege to read through.  I am delighted at the answers I received.  Joy Christian School is a Mission School.

What is the meaning of a mission school?  It is a school that anybody is welcome to attend.  In Christian School World…there are two kinds of schools.  Both are great….just different.  There is a Covenant School…where you must sign a covenant saying you are a follower of Jesus Christ.   And there are Missional Christian Schools, where you can pay to attend no matter what you believe about Jesus.  I love the mission of Joy…and…below are some things I learned in ROOM 1501 this week…

The 1st thing I learned…

Teachers/Faculty do not get to spend much time together.  We might pass each other during lunch or upon arrival/exit, but very little time is possible to spend together.  Our purpose is to spend time speaking/teaching/interacting/learning with the students of the school.  Not having time to spend together, as teachers, has demonstrated another thing to me; If there are any administrative/faculty negativities going on at a school, (BTW…there is none at Joy so far!) then it means that someone or several of the teachers/faculty are going out of their way to find or to start/continue negativity. There just isn’t enough time to spend together and any time spent together is on purpose.  This is probably true with anything in life…”You will find what you are looking for.”  (neg. or pos.)  And…”you will become what you focus on.” (neg. or pos.)   I hope you choose positive.  See Philippians 4:4-8 below.

“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

A 2nd thing I’ve learned…

A majority of students really do want to learn.  A majority show up in your classroom and they want to be noticed and respected by the teacher.  It’s really not a student thing…it’s a human nature thing.  A student doesn’t mind having to work hard, interact in discussion, do homework, and work for a grade…IF…they feel RESPECTED & APPRECIATED.  I recognize that I am still new at this teaching thing…but…I am pretty convinced if a teacher has a classroom full of chaotic kids that won’t listen, respond, or they mentally check out…I am guessing it’s more of a teacher problem than a student problem.  (I’ll get back to you on this one…I admit I am still new at teaching in a school…I could be wrong.  Time will tell…and as I learn, I will tell.)

A 3rd thing I learned…

Every profession has its own physical/emotional/intellectual CONDITIONING necessary to function in that position well. Imagine the physical conditioning needed to be working in the garbage truck business.  Landscaping. Working the drive thru at a fast food restaurant.  Working at a cardboard box manufacturing plant.  Farming.  CEO of a large company.  Driving a UPS truck. Office desk job.  etc. etc.  Every job is hard work…but that hard work comes in many different forms.

I have learned that being a teacher is no different.  I have learned that I am not in TEACHER SHAPE…YET!  I will get there.  Wow…my back hurts.  My vocal cords are tired.  My feet ache and my emotional and intellectual assets are fatigued…and so far, I am really enjoying the challenge.

I confess that I have taken the teachers of my own children and my own personal teachers, in the school system, for granted.  I have been a preacher/pastor for the past 20 years and am now getting to compare the work load, emotional-toll road, and the physical work load of both a teacher compared to a preacher.  Due to the fact that I am still too new as a teacher to speak with full confidence about this work load comparison subject…I will let time tell all things…and in time I will tell all things I am learning.

4th thing I’ve learned…

It doesn’t matter what kind of teacher you are…The very last class of students any teacher has on a FRIDAY….is going to have to figure out some very creative ways to keep the students minds and hearts in attention to the subject at hand.  It is very obvious, during the final school hour, that the students are checked out mentally as they think about the weekend break that is about to start.

I am pretty sure, at this final hour on Fridays, the students have superpower hearing.  I think the ticking of the clock on the wall is so loud to them as it counts down to their William Wallace moment of FREEEEDOM for the weekend, they have a hard time focusing.

So, as a teacher I could be stubborn enough and self-serving enough to demand their attention and think they will listen…but in all honesty…if I were to try to speak over the “freedom clock” noise ringing in their ears….I will only sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to my students.  It’s not their job to overpower the ticking clock.  It’s my job as a teacher to work smarter to help them not even hear the clock.  I don’t know how to do this yet…but I’ll get there!

Joy Coat of Arms

That’s what’s “Having Done in Room 1501.”

Hope you enjoyed the read.  I feel loved by you if you read this.

Thank you.

Trent

 

 

 

 


Do you have “American-Christian Elephantitis?”

Those of you who know me, know that my wife and I have started a Christian 501c3 organization called, “ReturnHope International.” 

Anyway….I say that to say…

Some of ReturnHope’s work is being done in Africa.  I have a deep love for the people of Africa.  Specifically the people of Uganda.  When I was in Uganda recently, I spoke with a couple locals who were asking me about what American’s think of Ugandans…or Africans, in General.

One of the Ugandan people got more specific with me.  This person told me they received a letter from an American describing how two Christians were fighting in America over work that needed to be done in Africa.  The letter was warning the Africans to stay out of the conflict to avoid getting hurt.

They told me that the writer of the letter used an African Proverb to try to make a point to them.   “What African Proverb was used,” I asked.  They responded by quoting the proverb…

“WHEN TWO ELEPHANTS ARE FIGHTING, IT IS THE GRASS THAT GETS TRAMPLED.”

Elephants-Fighting

The African told me that the letter was warning them about how they are the only ones who would get trampled by these fighting Americans and they needed to make sure they stayed out of the way of the Elephants that were fighting.  Then the African asked me a question, with obvious hurt and frustration on his face…

“Do American’s think themselves as elephants, and Africans as grass?”

I very sincerely replied, “I can only speak for myself…I cannot begin to tell you what the writer of that letter thinks, but I am deeply sorry if you have been hurt by this person’s letter.  It does seem the writer believes themselves to be an Elephant….and you Africans as the grass, that gets hurt when they fight.”   I then told them that most American’s do not think this way.

I also said,  “since we are talking about proverbs, have you heard the proverb… “One bad apple can ruin the whole barrel.” Then I said, “let me just say that very few Americans would actually think in such an arrogant and ungodly way…please do not let this one American, who wrote the letter, ruin it for the rest of us Americans.”

I also asked the recipient of the letter, to give the writer of the letter, the benefit of the doubt by hoping the writer just displayed their own ignorance by trying to use an African proverb in an attempt to sound smarter than they actually are.

What I thought was just a friendly conversation between some people getting to know each other, was actually…I believe…the voice of God warning me and other American Christians about how we treat the very people we serve…”in the name of Jesus.”

If you are a Christian who is also American…and you do good work for the less fortunate, locally and/or in foreign places…I have some questions for you.

1.  Do you think you are actually taking God to the foreigner?  If you do…you are ignorant of the real God and ignorant of how active and alive He is all around the world…and how patient God is with your ignorance.   God is at work everywhere…and we as followers of Jesus must choose to obey His commands to serve the less fortunate….but…God is already there and working…we aren’t so special that we are actually taking God to them.

2.  Do you think you are an Elephant and the less fortunate are just Grass?  The American writer of the letter that used this African proverb, is all the evidence the Africans needed to think all American’s are arrogant.  The damage has been done and it will take many-many Americans going to Africa with humble attitudes and humble servants hearts to prove, through our actions, that 99.9% of Americans do not think that Africans are grass under our American elephant feet.  Good Grief!  I am so frustrated by this letter that was written and caused serious mental damage.

Only God is THE Elephant…the rest of us are but grass!

3.  With the work you do in 3rd world countries or to the less fortunate in the USA…are you actually serving the recipient to a point where they are growing into self sufficiency(Being ‘grass’ with them)…or are you causing them to become dependent upon your giving?   Think long and hard on this one…How many years have well intentioned Christians been in Africa trying to do good, yet African self sufficiency is no closer to a reality?  Think of it this way… If you disappeared from the foreign fields you have been doing good in…would the people of that foreign field be able to succeed without you and your gifts / aid?  Is the good you are doing for the least of these, leading them into working towards self sufficiency, or toward dependency on you?

In Conclusion…

Never forget what Jesus said as He was talking about His 2nd return…

“The Grass shall be the Elephant and the Elephant shall be the grass.”

Or…more biblically correct…

The last shall be first!  The first shall be last! (Its all about motive/attitude) Hey letter writer…Do you still think you are an elephant and the Africans are just grass?

One last sentence in my rant towards the bully elephant’…

Jesus…is THE Elephant.  When He came to earth and incarnated Himself from an Elephant to just a piece of grass…He washed our feet.  He let us abuse Him.  He served us.  He let us kill Him.  “For even the Son of Man came not to be an elephant but to be grass, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Please read Mark 10:45 for the exact version. 

The Bull Elephant served the grass that in return mowed Him down.

Oh writer of this letter to the Africans…  For God’s sake…for Africa’s sake…for your very own eternal destination’s sake…Do NOT think any longer that you are an Elephant and that Africans are but grass…you owe the Africans an apology.  You owe it to Americans to redeem our reputation. 

To all servants of the most High God…may the recipients of our service see our love and humility and may we demonstrate our equality amongst them.

If you still think you are an Elephant…you have your animals confused…you are mistaking an elephant for a donkey.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

For the Record…..

 I, Trent A. Renner, am a piece of grass.