The Wagging Finger Addiction

I was just a novice, barely out of University, but with the prospect of soon beginning my first real teaching assignment as a French teacher in a private college in the U.S. I was sure that my soon-to-be students would soon be eating out of my hands.

It hurts when your bubble bursts, doesn't it?

Things actually did go well at first. But there was this one student in my class who was not very compliant. She seemed to have a milliard of reasons to complain, and she felt it was her classroom role to make the other students understand that they had reason to complain as well! It came to the point that whenever she raised her hand, I would cringe. I never knew if she was going to ask a valid question or if she was going to tear me or my class apart!

That's when I began to develop an inherent self-defence mechanism: I began to ignore her comments! I stopped trying to use her complaints to improve my teaching; in fact, I stopped listening to them altogether!

The last day of school finally arrived, and I found myself counting the hours until I wouldn't have to face this difficult student any longer. But then the unexpected happened: At the end of the class, she approached my desk with a gift. My mouth dropped open, but it was her words that made me speechless: "Thank you for having been my teacher. I have never enjoyed a class so much!"

She, she liked my class? Did I hear her correctly? I almost fell over of shock.

Her words still resound in my ears today, and I will always cherish them when facing similar situations. However, I have to wonder how different my teaching might have been, had I at least listened to her concerns.

My tendency is still to not listen to people who complain. However, with God's help, I have made huge strides in this area. My Heavenly Father has clearly shown me that all of His children are important to Him, and so are their concerns! Here is what I've learned from this situation:

1. We as Christians are not to put others down. We are to encourage them! The fact that the devil is the master discourager and God is the Master encourager should tell us something!

"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. 3 It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own." (Matt 7:1-3 The Message)

"Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one." (Rom 2:1 The Message)

"Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (Heb 3:13-14 NIV)

2. We must listen to what others have to say about us.

"Listen , you idiots - learn good sense! You blockheads - shape up!" (Prov 8:5 The Message)

3. If you need to rebuke someone, do it gently and privately. Embarrassing someone in front of everybody will only cause the person to become defensive.

"If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him - work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend." (Matt 18:15 The Message)

"Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out." (Gal 6:1 The Message)

Did I ever tell you how much I appreciate that you listen to my ranting so patiently?

Rob Chaffart

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