Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

Inside Out

Inside OutTwo things happened recently that made me rethink my outsider-insider perspective on the Kingdom.

The first time, a graduate student was sitting in my office telling a story. In our course discussions, we’d been talking about how a teacher loves her students. In her classroom, she’d been dealing with some unlovable students. Many of them wouldn’t even try and instead tuned out in various ways. One day when one of those students had her head down on the desk, my graduate student decided to try a loving approach, discovered the student was ill, and sent her back to bed. That simple act of compassion brought about a transformation in this student’s attitude toward both her teacher and learning English.

Later my student sent me a message and apologized for causing me sadness. (Tears had come to my eyes as she was talking.) She was worried her story had brought up a painful memory. No, I was moved by her compassion. Even more, I was moved by something mysterious. In both how and what I taught, I’d been attempting to reflect the Master Teacher. Was she in turn, outsider though she is, reflecting Him on to her students?

A few months later, I was sitting in a previous student’s office receiving a scolding. (He now has a high enough position that he can do that to his former teacher.) We were talking about LEAPAsia’s work, and with a chiding tone, he said, “You’re an American and doing these things for Chinese people. We Chinese should be helping our own. You need to teach us how to do this.”

I’d had a vision for getting locals involved in LEAPAsia’s work. Insiders anyway. Over the years, a few of them have been on visits to rural schools with us. My former student, an outsider, gave me something to think about. Can outsiders also be engaged in inside work?

I’m still figuring this out, but here’s where I am right now. Acting justly and loving mercy aren’t exclusive to insiders. We certainly aren’t doing such a good job that we have a monopoly on loving others. Even when we try, there are more people to love than there are people to love them. If outsiders are following our lead, if they’ve heard our deeper purpose, isn’t a reflection of a reflection better than no reflection at all? Do they have to know the King and know what they’re doing in order to honor Him? Apparently not, since if His own people refuse to honor Him, even the rocks would cry out.

And then, I’ve been thinking about what might happen to outsiders if I invited them into inside work. What would happen if we stood shoulder to shoulder with each other while standing shoulder to shoulder with children who need extra encouragement? I once joined a group of local colleagues as they volunteered at a rural school, and their thrill at helping others wasn’t much different from the thrill we insiders feel. I know I’m behind the times, but I finally saw Frozen, and here’s my takeaway: giving sacrificially can thaw a frozen heart.

Further exploration

  • Matthew 13:44-46
  • Mark 9:38-41
  • Acts 20:35

 What’s your perspective?

  • In your experience, what happens when you bring outsiders into inside work?

Post Author

Melissa K. Smith

Photo Credit: Infomastern via Compfight cc

2 comments on “Inside Out

  1. gary
    October 22, 2015

    If the ultimate goal of the work is to change the mind and the heart, than I believe we do the work a dis-service by segregating it into inside/outside designations. I believe that as people created in the image of our creator, that all the work becomes simply the work that we are all created to do, working together with him through his son to restore all things to himself. The blessing for all of us comes in seeing the blessing, the creator works in and through that and as long as his presence is present, so is hope. – Peace


    • Melissa
      October 23, 2015

      Thank you for that perspective, Gary. Blessing brings blessing; offering hope brings hope, all pointing toward the Creator. May it be so in the work we both do and partner with others in!


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This entry was posted on October 21, 2015 by in Melissa K. Smith, once upon a classroom.



Photo Credit: Eric Fischer via Compfight cc
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