Friday, April 25, 2014

Leaps of Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. Hebrews 11:1-2

The other day, I was substitute teaching and watching a student struggle through a math problem using mental math. She wanted to return to her seat to complete the problem with paper-and-pencil, but I asked her to work with me in order to complete it. I could see that the answer was at the tip of her tongue, but she was afraid of being incorrect. Slowly but surely she wrote out the correct answer. For her, that was a pretty big leap of faith.
 
What is a leap of faith? I think many of us have taken them over the years. A new job. Marriage. Change. A leap of faith. In times of new changes, people tend to wish the other person "Good luck!" However, in my line of work, we don't work on luck. We work on faith. Over the years, I have been privileged to watch and take some pretty amazing leaps of faith over the years.

I have watched a unruly student turn to the Lord in prayer for help. I have watched a family join a church through the witness of their child. I have watched numerous friends take a leap of faith by accepting a Call to serve in a new place. On Tuesday, many new pastors and their families will be going through Call Day. They will be learning of the places they will serve for both vicarage and pastoral roles.

If you would like to learn more, visit: http://callday.csl.edu/. Take some time to include these families in your prayers as the Lord blesses and prepares them for ministry.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rainmaking

"Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

A pastor once told me that the book of Philippians uses the word joy 18 times, more than any other book in the Bible. I recently took some time to review one of my favorite books on leadership, Leading from the Lion's Den, by Tom Harper. In the book, he reviews each book of the Bible and pulls out a leadership lesson from God's unchanging Word. The chapter on Philippians is based on the verse above.

As a teacher, one of the greatest gifts I have been given is the opportunity to mentor young students. In my classroom, I see students who will be future government officials, lawyers, doctors, and entrepreneurs. However, the vocation of church work is one of the greatest professions that I have the opportunity to encourage. We are often concerned about how we will need more teachers, principals, pastors, deaconesses, and other church workers in this Synod. Therefore, it can be a little disheartening when one tries to sway someone away from the profession or discourage their ideas.

When it comes to finding a solution to our ministries, sometimes we tend to look for a new hire that will fix all of the problems. However, we should be careful not miss the diamond in the rough that may already be amongst us. The teacher that is gifted in science and waiting for the opportunity to put those talents to use. The teacher who loves project-based learning and wants the opportunity to offer input. The deaconess who imparts wisdom of God's word on a daily basis.

A great leader is able to give the credit away. Enter rainmaking. That silver lining in the clouds. How are some of our best leaders created? They develop new leaders. Yet, a rainmaker takes it a step further. A rainmaker doesn't just develop one leader. A rainmaker teaches a person how to make other rainmakers. A rainmaker can recognize a person's strengths and helps them succeed. There are some future rainmakers sitting in Lutheran school classrooms around the world. They are learning and growing - putting their faith into action. Making rain.

How are you making rain?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Fishbowl Effect

I am blessed to call myself the daughter of a Lutheran school teacher. I grew up coloring during choir practice and doing my homework while my mom graded papers at school. I have been privileged to have 16 years of Lutheran school training and have spent over 5 years teaching in the LCMS. However, this experience has also lead me to realize some very important boundaries about life.

As time goes along, lines sometimes tend to blur. We develop friendships within the church. We get busy with work, and we take it home. We have that quick conversation at church about something that needs to be ready for Monday. While it can be a wonderful thing that a church has a family-like feel, this can lead to some pretty unhealthy habits. It is important to protect the personal, professional, and spiritual lives of a church worker. Business should be done in the business setting. Personal lives should not be invaded without permission. Worship is not a place where business should be conducted

The Lord has some great thoughts on the importance of rest:

And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while." For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Mark 6:31

But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. Luke 15:16

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. Matthew 14:23

How do you protect your time as a servant of the Lord?


 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Gift of the Eighth Commandment

As a Lutheran teacher, I am blessed with the opportunity to use the 10 commandments as a part of my classroom management strategies. When we learn about the commandments, we learn that they come with law, but that they also come with a gift. The eighth commandment states that we shall not give false testimony against our neighbors. We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him or give him a bad name, but defend him, speak well of him and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way.

That is where the gift of eighth commandment comes into play. In the same way that we put rules into our classroom for safety reasons, God gives us rules as well. He doesn't give us those rules to hurt us. All of the commandments come with a gift, and the eighth commandment comes with the gift of a good name. As I teach my students, I tell them that one of the worst things they can do is tell me a lie. When they lie to me, it becomes more difficult for me trust them. This leads me to question the way that they treat their friends and myself.

Why do we lie? Lying can get us out of awkward situations. It can spare the feelings of others. It can preserve or strengthen alliances. It can enhance our social standings. It can keep us out of trouble. It can even save our lies. I always feel for the young students that feel the need to lie to me at a such a young age. Little kids don't tend to lie like adults do. We often learn to lie as a defense mechanism to protect ourselves. Therefore, when I have a student that lies to me as such a young age, it usually means they have learned to do this because they were afraid of the truth. It takes time, care, and love to break them of that habit and learn that when they tell me the truth, the consequence will not be as great.

How have you used the gift of the eighth commandment recently?

Slater, S. (2013). Why do we lie? Retrieved from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-dolphin-divide/201309/why-do-we-lie