An educator recently shared this point of view with me: Life isn’t all about sunshine and ice cream. Students today need to be exposed to the real world.
Needless to say, I found this a bit disturbing. I have concerns on two levels. First of all, the statement was made by a very young educator. Most young educators I know are full of excitement and determined to make a difference. Have I been living in an alternate universe? Are young teachers becoming more cynical? I surely hope not.
Second, I tried to imagine what the “real world” was going to look like in this teacher’s classroom. I would agree the real world can often be very dark (i.e., the opposite of sunshine). However, does that mean our classrooms need to be dark to prepare kids for the real world? I don’t think so.
I’m not really sure what was being implied by the reference to ice cream. Maybe he was suggesting that life can be distasteful, not enjoyable like ice cream. Surely this young educator was not implying today’s classrooms should expose students to the distasteful aspects of life so they will be prepared for the real world. This would be malpractice.
While I am quite hopeful the teacher does not fully embrace the implications made by this statement, I do wonder how this mindset translates to the daily decisions and interactions taking place in the classroom. Jesus warned the Pharisees, “Whatever is in your heart determines what you say” (Matthew 12:34). In other words, our words often reflect a heart condition, and we all know this impacts how we behave. Jesus did not mince words. He made this truth quite clear.
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. Matthew 12:35
Christian educators may frequently find themselves surrounded by colleagues whose comments reflect a negative mindset and an evil heart. While these situations can feel oppressive, I believe God wants us to reflect a contrasting mindset—a good heart full of sunshine and ice cream! We can show our students and colleagues a different “real world”, one full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. A world full of hope.
Jesus knew living in the real world wasn’t all sunshine and ice cream, too. To put it simply, this is why he came. Our world is evil, but when we accept Jesus as our Savior, our heart condition changes. Our real world changes. In the Parable of the Good Shepherd recorded in John 10, Jesus wanted us to know He came so that we could have life and have it abundantly. There are two versions of the world—one with Jesus and one without Jesus.
· I want children to see a Jesus version of the real world in our classrooms.
· I want our colleagues to see a Jesus version of the real world in our daily behaviors and interactions.
So, what does this mean? While we work in different environments, God’s Word reveals actions that should characterize all believers.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-17
This verse is a high calling on our lives and impossible to carry out in our own strength. Don’t try to do this on your own! Stay connected to Jesus!
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
As Christian educators, let’s embrace our calling. Let’s stand up and look different than the world who doesn’t know Jesus.
I hope your days are filled with sunshine and ice cream!