What He said is helpful to us as teachers. When we come to a long passage, it can be a bit overwhelming to know what to pay attention to. Instead of talking about all of it, today we will start where the Master Teacher did, in a passage that has been called The Beatitudes. He encourages our hearts as teachers in three ways.
1. This section is called The Beatitudes because of all the being verbs. Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, and blessed are the meek are the first three. The Teacher reminds us how important our attitudes are towards our profession, the education system in general, our co-workers, and most importantly towards our students. When I read this section, the Holy Spirit uses it to ask me, “Amy, what IS your attitude?” It is easy to say what we want our attitude to be, and the Teacher will help us grow and change. But He always starts with where we are.
What is your attitude towards teaching recently?
2. The Teacher used nine examples of people who will be blessed. Nine! As I read them, it sounds like the students in my class: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and those who are reviled on His account.
Read over the list again and picture one of your classes. You might not have each one of these descriptions represented, but I am sure you have several of them. The Teacher reminds me that I might be drawn to three or four of these types of students, but He is drawn to all of them. He wants me to make my classroom as much of a mirror of His heart as I can.
Which students have you been overlooking?
3. In addition to the be verbs, what word is repeated in this passage? Blessed. Our Teacher stresses how important it is to focus on our heart and not on our conditions. We are blessed as teachers to have students who are poor in spirit and disheartened, or who hunger and thirst for righteousness with disruptive behavior, or who are meek and might be overlooked. I will admit that I do not always see myself as blessed with the amount of variety in my classroom. But I think this is why the Teacher focuses not on the outward—is it easy for you to like this group of students—and points us to go deeper. Often we have no control over who is in our classroom, but we can control (and pray for) how we see ourselves.
Do you see yourself as blessed?
This is called the Sermon on the Mount because people sat on a mountain side listening to the lessons. We are no different, we need to sit at His feet and remember these timeless lessons.
- Matthew 5:1-12
- Here is a music video of the Beatitudes from a traditional version (with the words written on it). It uses a translation you will be familiar with.
- Here is another music video that uses a more modern translation of the Beatitudes and also has the words written for you to follow as it is sung.
- On the Mountainside (our teacher lectionary entry for this Sermon on the Mount series)
What’s your perspective?
- What is your attitude toward teaching recently? How might it need to grow?
- Which students have you been overlooking?
- Do you see yourself as blessed by your students?
Amy’s first classroom was filled with two students who did not want to be there, seeing as they were her younger sisters. Thankfully, things have looked up for her when it comes to teaching! She’s taught junior highers all the way up to visiting scholars from China. She has masters in both TESL and counseling and sees strong connections between the two disciplines. She blogs at the Messy Middle and recently had her book, Looming Transitions: Starting and finishing well in cross-cultural service, published.