Walking in the Opposite Spirit

Following a harsh warning, a teacher's feelings of offense turn into honor.

As I stepped out of my principal’s office, her words rolled over and over in my mind, “…and if this has anything to do with your church…” 

I could not stop thinking about her reaction to my request… I think I am being warned, or even worse, threatened. But no, that couldn’t be. I have done nothing wrong. Nothing. My actions have always been above board. How could she accuse me of doing something I have never done? I am one of the quietest teachers in my building among a rather opinionated, highly critical, and sarcastic staff. I just can’t make sense of the reason for her harsh tone…

While meeting with my principal for my annual review, I thought it would be a good opportunity to propose my idea of hosting a parent engagement night that would allow my low readers an opportunity to demonstrate their growing fluency skills. I planned to pay for the event with our government funding designated for this student population since it would be spent on a meaningful measure that would help our struggling readers grow. And even though I had never spoken to my principal or anyone close to her about my love for Christ, my church, or my belief that I was a teacher on a mission under the direction of the Holy Spirit, she was suspicious of my motives. I couldn’t understand why. Her questioning of me was out of the blue and rather alarming, indeed. 

Then, after a few days of pondering and bringing this confusing interaction before the Lord, it hit me: My principal was not upset with me; she was feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit in me. Considering I had never disrespected my principal, spoken about her unkindly in her presence or behind her back (though this was all too common among our staff), or gone against any of her requests, it was the only explanation that made sense.

However, I immediately felt defensive, thinking that I would need to carefully scrutinize all of my school-related actions so that my principal’s white glove wouldn’t pick up any possible dirt on me.

In hopes of getting some advice, I reached out to my mentor teacher. His response surprised me.

“You need to honor her, Jesica.” 

My mentor explained the powerful impact that honor would have on my principal, pointing out, “Honor brings favor.” 

He helped me realize that I needed to humble myself and serve (Matthew 20:25-28) my principal in order to gain her trust. Then, God would be faithful to exalt me at the proper time (James 4:10). 

Reading 1 Peter 2:13-17 helped me understand that my teaching role in a public school was subject to those in authority over me (in this case, my principal). 

Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor (ESV).

Furthermore, I realized my trust in God’s faithfulness would help me “do good” and silence any foolish accusation that came against me. 

Wow! I knew that my mentor was right, and God was going to teach me something big if I committed to honoring my principal from that day forward. 

As my mentor helped me develop a practical plan of engagement, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that honoring my principal involved “walking in the opposite spirit” of her suspicions. For example, if she came at me with an accusation, I would respond with words of affirmation and sincere gratitude for her leadership.

Before I implemented this plan, I asked God to show me how He saw my principal. My heart broke as He revealed why she was so bitter toward Christians. Slowly, my negative feelings toward her softened. 

At first, I honored her out of obligation. But over time, I found myself naturally thinking of her with honor and respect. I began writing down words of encouragement, edification, and comfort on little cards several times a month and putting them in her school mailbox. Sometimes I left a coffee card or a small gift. She thanked me every time and said they were unnecessary. I consistently responded by saying that I wanted to show her my appreciation and felt she wasn’t thanked often enough. 

During this time of honoring my principal, I also prayed for strategies to help my struggling readers cross the hurdle of growing in their fluency, while also capitalizing on public speaking skills and providing an avenue for their families to support them. The majority of my students had never found success in academics, and most of them were not provided with an outlet to explore and develop their non-academic skills or talents. They didn’t have gym, choir, band, or art because my special reading class took the place of those electives. They suffered without these opportunities to feel successful. On top of that, my students were not getting the extra academic support they needed at home because most of their parents worked more than one job.

My mentor encouraged me to dream with God about possibilities for solving these seemingly impossible situations. Of course, God was faithful to provide an idea to help these kids who faced so many challenges. 

This God-inspired idea entailed using the government funding for our program to organize an event where these kids could experience some success with reading in front of their parents. This event resembled the one my principal aggressively dismissed two years ago. But this time, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to include a pastor, which definitely “had something to do with my church.” However, I was going to propose that my church youth pastor (who was also a father and an engaging speaker) present a five-minute message on parenting teens from a Kingdom perspective without using any Christian terminology. His message would be filled with laughter and connection while affirming and empowering parents to bring order and honor to their homes. Then, my students would perform their literacy skills on the cafeteria stage using our reader’s theater scripts. We would celebrate their progress with applause from the ones they wanted affirmation from the most: their parents.

So I decided to once again take a risk and ask my principal for permission to host a parent engagement night. I chose to trust in God’s faithfulness even though I knew it could potentially cause conflict between us once again. 

After I gave my proposal, she simply gave her approval and didn’t ask any questions about my church or the message being presented. She fully supported the event. God was faithful! Throughout those two years, I earned her trust and respect by following the biblical principle of showing honor to authority.  

The event was a great success! Our parents and students enjoyed a delicious pizza dinner that I prayed over under my breath as I served, believing that God would even use pizza to bless each heart. The parents learned about Kingdom parenting strategies, and the students grew in confidence as they showed off their newly found fluency skills. 

As a bonus, one of my colleagues who was also teaching the same reading support class asked if her students could also participate in the event. So, God blessed not only my students and their families, but hers as well. 

Over time, as I honored my principal, I was able to see her as God sees her and she began to trust me.

Looking back, I realize that, in the heat of the moment, I had initially misunderstood my principal’s reaction to my request to host a parent engagement night. Over time, as I honored my principal, I was able to see her as God sees her and she began to trust me. Her trust allowed me to help families encounter biblical principles such as order, honor, respect, and celebrating one another.

When I transferred to a different school a few years after the event, my principal seemed upset with me and didn’t offer any sort of warm goodbye. Instead of taking offense, I instantly felt the Holy Spirit show me that she had grown to trust me and was truly disappointed to see me go—she just didn’t know how to show it. So, I walked in the opposite spirit and thanked God again for His faithfulness. I thanked Him for answering my prayers, showing me how to partner with Him, and using me to demonstrate His heart to my principal who desperately needed His healing touch.

As teachers on a mission to shine in our schools, I pray that we are reminded to take a step back and ask God: What are You up to and how can I partner with You? 

We might be working with people who need to see another side of His love to heal their hearts. God might be planning to show them that life-changing love through us. I have a feeling that we will never realize how incredibly powerfully our actions and words shine when we’re following God’s leading! And even if we don’t get to experience the joy of seeing salvation come to the lives we pour into, we can be assured that God is faithfully pursuing each person. 


Jesica Glover is a National Board Certified Teacher, educational coach, author, podcaster, and CEO of Kingdom Educators. She’s passionate about empowering Christian teachers to grab ahold of Heaven’s hope-filled perspective so they can activate transformational impact in their classrooms and communities.


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