The very first lesson that I already explained in my previous post was about expectation. You don't set expectations low. Interestingly, throughout the last week people kept using the word 'expectation' - which to me indicates that God was trying to teach me something about that idea.
The second lesson is about having a clear aim. The best lessons that I have taught these past couple of weeks, have started out clearly and continued in an organised and structured manner. They have set out clearer expectations for the students but most importantly they had an aim in mind. Teaching them about the characters in the book was not just about teaching them for the sake of understanding the characters but also for the assessment task they will have to create when they do a monologue from a character's perspective.
Similarly I think that it becomes important in life for us to have aims that we can set out. We should set great expectations and also have aims or dreams that we can keep reminding ourselves about. I'm not saying that our aims or dreams are necessarily always going to succeed - in fact God may have greater goals for us (and we should always set the cross before us first and foremost) - but it is important to see how our life should continue to connect back to the greater dream that we have.
My dream would be to do something with creative or nonfiction writing in the future as well as to teach but my greater purpose in teaching is to be able to encourage and uplift others in a God-honouring way. I may not be able to preach the gospel directly without compromising certain laws, but I can certainly live the gospel to those that might not otherwise see it.
The third lesson is the idea of judgement. I have noticed how teachers tend to categorise their students, and I hope I don't end up doing that without giving them a fair assessment of what they can be rather than what they are. By categorise, I mean that particular students are granted 'brilliant' status while others are 'lazy, poor, hopeless' etc. This doesn't mean that these students aren't still taught, it simply means that there is a particular way that that they are being judged even before any lesson begins.
I know that I will be judged by people around me - Christian or non-Christian. I know that I will sadly judge others, even if I know that I should not and actively try not to. I found myself thinking last night about a particular situation with myself that I suspect some people are critiquing. At times I do wish that people would ask if they have questions about my life, I will provide answers to those questions and I prefer it to anyone talking behind my back (or questioning to themselves). I was thinking to myself 'I guess I just understand God's purpose better than they do.' And instantly I realised that I was being judgemental myself to think in such a way.
Here's how the third lesson really impacted me. It can be easy to be self-righteous, to look at God's own purpose for us and to judge the way others cannot see that purpose or plan. God acts in weird and mysterious ways (he isn't a man after all) and what really matters is that the heart of an individual is seeking after Him. For me to think a thought like 'I understand God's purpose better,' is - I humbly admit - self-righteous, religious and plain wrong. I might understand some of God's purpose for my own life better than another person, but I won't understand God's purpose for your life better. Or else, I would be God.
As I see it the three lessons combine in such a way: 1. Set high expectations with God, expect nothing less than the best. 2. Trust in the dreams, goals and abilities that God has given you for your life and turn back to them as a reminder of where God wants your life to be heading, 3. Don't judge the goals and dreams and life that God has given to another person. Just because you don't understand how God could be working such a career, death, new relationship or old relationship doesn't mean that God isn't doing something. He is always doing something.
So after thinking and reflecting on these three lessons I want to close with Proverbs 3:5-6
"5 Trust in the Lord with all your heartI know that I myself am very far from perfect, I don't trust God fully with my heart even though my desire is to do so. I don't always lean on his understanding rather than mine or submit to him. But as I have titled my blog "Getting a Little Closer Every Day", so I want to become more and more able to trust in Him with all my heart and lean on his understanding, submitting to Him so that my path in life becomes straight. I encourage anyone reading this (as I encourage myself) to set those expectations this year, to work out or remind yourself about dreams God has for your life and to not judge others by the personal understanding, blessing or purposes that God has for you. Just because someone else might struggle in an area doesn't mean their faith is stronger or weaker - it just might mean God is doing something different with them that will transform them into a different kind of butterfly...
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight."