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  • Writer's pictureMichael Dennis

"Please, Lord, Send Someone Else."

Moses said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.” Exodus 4:13


I have always had a soft spot for the underdog.  My heart is drawn to people who have been wounded, abused, or held down in some way.  It is my greatest joy to see them overcome the obstacles in front of them and reach their fullest potential.  When I first began to feel called to go into education, I never really had a doubt that I would end up in a “tough” school working with kids from “rough” backgrounds.  Even though I don’t use these words as descriptors anymore (because they tend to just be code for “poor”), they do communicate an absolute truth: teaching in economically disadvantaged communities is really hard.


Basic supplies, working technology, and support staff are in short supply.  Very few students come to you “on-level,” and many have severe academic deficits.  Behavior is a constant issue as students who have been traumatized by the neglect, abuse, and insecurity that come with living in poverty have obvious difficulty in navigating social situations.  Parental involvement is limited.  The pressure to increase test scores is overwhelming.  As a result of all of these things, teacher and administrator turnover is high.


Then, on top of all of it, something like last Friday morning happens.  At 10:30 AM a student at our school who had snuck a .38 revolver into the building pulled it out and shot another student in the leg.  The situation was deescalated quickly. The shooter was caught and taken into custody, and the victim is going to be okay.  I was not even on campus when it happened.  Most students seem unphased by the whole situation, and I keep getting reminded that it could have been so much worse.


In spite of this, something was taken from me that day that I can’t get back.  I had experienced fatigue, anxiety, depression, discouragement, anger, and all kinds of other feelings in that building, but I had never feared for my life.  That feeling of security (naive though it may have been) is gone.  I feel exposed, vulnerable, and suspicious in a way I never have before.  I can feel the bright-eyed optimism and passion for teaching in a place like this draining out of me. I want to go somewhere else, somewhere easier, somewhere less dangerous.


Please, Lord, send someone else.

I have always had a deep empathy for and felt a connection with Moses.  He was a man called by God to do something that he felt unworthy, unqualified, and unprepared to do.  The statement from the verse above comes after a lengthy conversation with God (speaking out of a flaming bush) where Moses comes up with every excuse in the book for why he’s the wrong person to lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt.  Turns out, however, that he’s actually perfect for the job.


·       Who better than a Hebrew raised by Egyptians to bridge that cultural gap? 

·       Who better than a man with a passion against injustice to help break the chains of oppression off of God’s people?

·       Who better than a shepherd to lead those very stubborn people on the journey God had for them? 


If that wasn’t enough, God gave Moses His personal name (Yahweh), the promise of His presence and power, a convincing sign, and an assurance that his speech impediment would not mess things up.


I have had so many of these conversations with God.  I try to convince Him that He’s got the wrong guy, only to have Him show me that the very things I see as my greatest weaknesses are actually the parts of me that make me the most successful where He’s called me.  He reminds me of who He is, that He is always with me, and that He will give me the resources I need to do what needs to be done.


However, all these great answers and assurances weren’t enough for Moses, and, if I’m honest, sometimes they aren’t enough for me.  Sometimes I really just don’t want to do what God has asked me to do—not because I don’t feel that I can but because I’m so tired and discouraged that I just want to stop, sit down, nurse my wounds, and try to find something less difficult/exhausting/dangerous to do with my life.  I have felt this way many times this school year and have been actively seeking a way out.


Please, Lord, send someone else.


Moses could have walked away from that bush.  God could have become fed up with Moses and found someone else.  Neither of those things happened, and that gives me hope.  What did happen was that God gave Moses a helper, someone who could support him, encourage him, and eventually physically hold him up when he couldn’t stand.  God told Moses to take his brother Aaron and go to Pharaoh, and Moses did.


In the last week, I was offered two new jobs.  One of them is a newer and more well-resourced school that serves the “nicer” part of town.  The other is a Title 1 school similar to my current situation.  I was so tempted to take the first one and walk what I assumed would be an easier path, but I didn’t.  The fact is that no matter how hard this year has been or how fearful I might be right now, my calling and passion have not changed.  I am here to teach in places and with kids that the world has largely given up on.


In this process of transition and in trying to write this blog, I was reminded of one very important truth that one would have thought I would have figured out by now. I can’t and don’t have to do this alone.  God has surrounded me with Aarons and Miriams who are more than willing to hold me up when I can’t stand on my own.  He has gifted me specifically with the skills and experiences that make me a good teacher.  Most importantly, He has given me His presence to strengthen me and get me through anything.


My fellow teachers, please don’t give up and walk away from the burning bush.  Yes, the task may seem impossible.  Yes, it may require more of you than you have to give.  Yes, you may want to quit over and over again. However, just remember—you don’t have to do this alone.  Reach out for help from friends, family, and coworkers.  Recognize the ways that your life to this point has molded you into the person that your kids need right now.  Lean into God’s presence on a moment-by-moment basis and let Him carry you when you feel like you can’t walk.  Then, when you feel like your back is against the wall and there’s nowhere to go, watch Him turn that sea into a highway that leads to the next part of your journey.

1 comment

1 Comment

Dr. Jackie Minor
Dr. Jackie Minor
Apr 22

Thanks Michael for your honest and heartfelt commitment to this field! Praying God's protection, guidance and blessing over you!

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