Once after an observation, I asked a new teacher a simple question about her students. Obviously frustrated by their behavior, she began to cry. Have you ever been brought to tears by your students? Or perhaps like me, you’re not a crier and instead get angry. I once got frustrated enough to walk out of a class which was better than the occasional sharp retort I’ve given a student.
I’ve had some wonderful students over the years, but I’ve never met a perfect one. And frankly, some are quite the opposite. Discerning how to deal with one student is challenging. Figuring out a class full of them is impossible. I take comfort in the fact that the Master Teacher knows the perfect solution for each imperfect student.
Yahweh has personally engaged with students of every kind. Take a journey with me through history and consider His experience. Soon after ordering time and space, His delight in His first two students was spoiled by their rebellion. When Abraham and Sarah came on the scene, He was faced with students who lied and ran away with His plans. Skip a generation, and He wrestled with a pair of devious students who could wheedle their way in and out of trouble. He dealt with the overly confident in Job’s know-it-all friends and the lacking in confidence in Moses. And then, there was Israel. Can you imagine a more challenging group of students?
The Master Teacher’s classroom included under-achievers, the over eager, and those who were motivated by the wrong things. He had students who doubted His authority and tried to take over His classes. Some were paralyzed by fear and refused to try; others made brave attempts before starting to sink. He worked with the haves and have-nots. He taught students with special needs and seemed to have a special place in His heart for those who were ostracized by their peers. And then there were the Pharisees.
Yahweh’s personal experience has spanned the ages up to today. Hardheaded and prideful would be some of the words I would use to describe the student He has found in me. Finish our journey by substituting your own words, and it becomes clear that the Master Teacher has engaged with students of every type. Then, consider the skill with which He has handled them, and you and me, and we see that Yahweh knows, not just in His infinite wisdom but in His vast experience, how to deal with even the most challenging of students.
More importantly, Yahweh knows your students and mine and cares for each one. Personally. He knit them together and determined their different capacities for learning. He’s counted their hairs and understands their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. He knows in any situation, given particular knowledge at a certain point in time, exactly what approaches combine to help them learn.
The Master Teacher who concerns Himself with sparrows must feel the frustration of an ill-fitting classroom technique and perceive what interferes with learning. He searches hearts and knows how to disarm defenses and broker peace. Moreover, He planted eternity there and fathoms how to use learning to draw them home.
Students can bring us to our knees in frustration. Exactly where we need to be, on our knees before the throne. The One who names every star also knows our students, fathoms each mind, and plumbs each heart. Out of love for us—and compassion for our students—the Shepherd’s wisdom is available to teachers who seek.