Treating God like our 4th Grade Teacher

Treating God like our 4th Grade Teacher

Oct 29, 2014

Treating God like our 4th Grade Teacher

 By Emily Watt, Central SDB Church, MD


ビジネスウーマン 教師 指差し


This is my second year teaching fourth grade in a Title 1 school where the vast majority of students come from low-income homes and are largely raising themselves. When people learn about my work, they inevitably ask, “What’s the hardest thing about teaching?” Last year, my answer fluctuated

between “teaching fourth graders to read” and “waking up before five every morning.” Teaching feels impossible sometimes. It tends to get a rosy tint in retrospect, so it’s hard to pinpoint the most difficult aspect of the profession. This year, I got my answer.

Last year, I started the school year with forty-seven of the most poorly behaved students that my school had to offer. As an example, I took a sick day and the students had a substitute. They chased the substitute away before lunch. When I came in the next day and heard the report, I tried to talk to them about their behaviors but I started to cry. That set them off and they started to cry because they knew how disappointed I was. I knew how wonderful and promising they were, but they were never quite able to show it to other people. We worked all year long to get past dysfunctional families, emotional disturbances, and bad habits to become a working and cohesive family unit. It was a constant, uphill battle to get my students into a zone where they could learn without worrying about the crazy things that were happening at home. But, they

left my classroom as responsible students who, I could honestly say, were ready for anything fifth grade could throw at them.

This year, my old fourth graders came to greet me on the first day of school. I sent each and every one of the new fifth graders to class with a word of encouragement, and a reminder that I was so very, very proud of them. Before long, I was a witness to some behaviors that blew me away. It was like last year had never happened. They were back to their same old habits and were ripping holes into their new teachers. All I could think was, “They know better. We worked so hard on this last year.” I was so hurt. When I was around them, they would do what they were supposed to do, but as soon as I turned the corner, they would go right back to their old ways. I went home and talked to my mother about it, because I couldn’t believe how quickly they forgot everything that we had been through. In her usual, tactful way, my mother said, “Well, you’re not who they answer to anymore.” After I pulled myself together, I started thinking: Don’t we treat God like that?

In the usual course of our walks with God, there are times when we’re crazy close to God and then there are times when we aren’t so close. When we’re close to God, we’re learning and we’re growing. We’re able to leave things in the past, start healing, and take steps in the right direction. But, when we begin to step away a little bit, we sometimes start to do the same old things that we’ve always done. I get the feeling that God looks at my foolishness sometimes and thinks, “She knows better. Why can’t she just do what she knows is right?” He must get so frustrated with me. I get so hurt when I see my old students acting like idiots after all that we’ve been through together. How much more so must God feel when he sees me willfully doing what is wrong?

This is what I think the difference is between my accountability to God and my students’ accountability to me: My students don’t owe me anything but I owe

God everything. My students are not accountable to me because they are now accountable to their new teachers. I will always be accountable to God. I owe it to God to do what I know is right, even if I don’t feel close to Him all the time, because He has given it all for me. My feelings and proximity to God, at any time, do not change His faithfulness or His righteousness or His sacrifice. And that’s the difference — God isn’t my fourth grade teacher. He’s not going to turn a corner and be unable to see my foolishness. It is my responsibility to do what is right, because God’s character does not depend on me or my relationship with Him.


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