I’ve been teaching now for about half a career, and my writing and speaking work has allowed me to connect with teachers from all around the world. And in all this time and in all these places, guess how many times I’ve met a teacher who has never experienced an occasional need for a boost of inspiration?
You guessed it—zero times.
Teaching is just too taxing to not need a boost once in a while. Whether it’s in our spirits, minds, hearts, or bodies, we get tired. We lose our vision. We get caught in ruts…stuck going through the motions.
During times like this, what are we as teachers to do? And, given that we are disciples first and educators after that, how should our faith influence our regular need for inspiration?
In an effort to answer these questions, I would like to share two general observations that I have found to be helpful for regaining a sense of inspiration.
First, it generally seems to be true that different things inspire different people. For example, you may be inspired by reading a professional development book by your favorite author, whereas the teacher next door may be overwhelmed by reading the same thing. At times, I get inspiration from a walk alone in the woods when I process my thoughts and feelings out loud with God. Sometimes, what I need is to take the same walk with a friend. And other times, I need to walk through the hallways of my school during my prep time and listen in on classrooms and visit with the students I encounter.
In other words, when it comes to regaining our fire, our vision, or our sense of purpose, I believe that God finds it pleasing to vary the means through which He helps us, much like how Jesus varied the ways in which He cured blindness during His ministry.
Second, the simple act of asking the Lord for help is, I find, the most powerful and reliable means I have for regaining my sense of inspiration.
I still remember the first time I discovered this as a first-year middle school teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. One evening in the middle of the school year, I sat at the table of my small apartment with a roster of my students in front of me. To put it mildly, I was struggling. I was so desperate for a breakthrough that I simply asked God to help me like each of my students. Name by name, I went through the list, asking Him: “God, please help me like ______. Please help me like ______. Please help me like ______.”
And I tell you what, dear colleague, over the next few months, that prayer produced miracles akin to a blind person receiving vision. I began to see my students more clearly. I started gaining God’s perspective of them. And this made it a lot easier to start to like them—and even love them. And when you and I love our students like God loves them, inspiration becomes so much easier, doesn’t it?
Fellow Christian educators, are you in need of some inspiration? If so, and we all need it at times, I encourage you to ask. Ask God to provide you with inspiration in the areas where you struggle. And then, believe and embrace the different methods He uses at different times to restore your vision.
Dave Stuart Jr. is a husband and dad who teaches high school students in a small town. He writes about teaching students toward long-term flourishing at DaveStuartJr.com.
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