I was 23 years old when I got my first modeling contract over 25 years ago. I was young, naive, and excited to captivate my audience.
No, I didn’t literally “walk the runway.” Instead, I modeled different attributes to over 100 students each year in my classroom. My students watched me as I, an imperfect teacher, occasionally misstepped and stumbled amid my smooth strides and striking poses. Through it all, I was keenly aware of their impressionable eyes on me.
I am in good company. Paul also recognized that his “students” watched him. In fact, in Philippians 3:17, he encouraged them to imitate him since he was attempting to imitate Christ. He wrote, “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do” (NIV). As teachers, I think we can learn a lot from Paul’s example.
- He admitted that he made mistakes. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. — Romans 7:14-15
- Aware of his weakness, he demonstrated how to accept grace. I was given a thorn in my flesh... Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. — 2 Cor 12:7-9
- He bravely faced many adversities. “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However… my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” — Acts 20:22-24
- Amid unjust abuse, he exhibited resilience and perseverance. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. — Phil 3:13-14
- He recognized and cared for those in need. “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” — Acts 20:35
Based on Paul's example, take time to reflect on what you are modeling for your students by asking yourself these questions:
- When I make a mistake, do I admit it?
- Do I ask my students for forgiveness?
- In turn, do I offer my students grace when they mess up?
- Do I exhibit bravery, resilience, and perseverance?
- How do I support my students and demonstrate unconditional love?
As you prepare to turn the final page of this TOV issue, I encourage you to ask the Lord to point out adjustments you can make to your “runway walk” and empower you to keep up the effective aspects of your modeling portfolio. Because your presence in your classroom is shaping your students…
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