Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. ~Isaiah 40:30-31I wonder sometimes if the choices I've made over the years--the ones that seemed in defiance of the status quo, the ones no one else seemed to understand--attracted followers. Independent thinking characterized my youth, shaped my present, and will mark my future. I think my choices aren't the attraction, but my own reaction to them either attracts or repels others. Often my choices caused me more work, more anxiety, and less peace. I doubt if anyone would want to pattern her life after mine in that case. But in following the path less traveled, there can still be peace. In following an independent spirit, there can be rest. The key is in the conviction that my actions can be traced back to whom I was following. The phrase "take me to your leader" is much more than a line in a science fiction B movie.
I chose a different path when I chose special education as a major in college. I chose a different path when I pursued a master's degree in gifted education and taught middle school gifted children. I chose a different path when I left teaching for a time to stay home with my babies. I chose yet another path when I decided to homeschool our two children for five years. Many people in my life shook their heads in dismay when I walked these paths. The difference between these choices and ones I made earlier in my life to be "independent" was that I was following a king and not my own independent thinking. Our forefathers probably would shake their heads at me as well.
Keeping in mind the previous discussions of how what you believe shapes what you think and spurs you to action, examine your actions. Consider these elements of the path you walk as an educator and whether they reflect your belief in the King.
Choosing a Teaching Position
I wanted to make a difference. That was what drove me to declare myself an education major during my freshman year of college. Choosing what to teach was a different story. I wavered and waffled between elementary education, secondary education, Latin, and children with special needs. Everyone I talked to had a very strong opinion about which would be best. I got the distinct feeling that choosing one meant rejecting another. I hope the atmosphere in the colleges of education at major universities has changed; but then there was a definite line in the sand, and college students had to choose sides.
Inside, I knew where God was calling me, but it wasn't easy to ignore peer pressure. I knew my choice was not the popular choice. I knew my classics professors would be disappointed in me. Yet I chose special education anyway. The special education department at my college was not as well organized as the elementary or secondary programs. We special ed majors were not tracked together throughout the years. We didn't spend time together learning how to act as a team. Our program was designed to help us learn how to meet the unique, individual needs of students, so we functioned as individuals and not teams as the regular education students did. It served its purpose, but I remember feeling separated and isolated within my own college.
Drawing on many factors, you choose what to teach and which kinds of students to serve; but nothing is by accident, and you are where God calls you to be. Even if you find yourself in a department that was not your first choice, it isn't a mistake. Nothing is wasted. God redeems all. He makes everything work together for His good purposes. Twenty years later I find myself about to teach high school Latin! It means adding a subject to my certification. It means changing my lifestyle completely. It means trusting God to complete the good work He started in me all those years ago.
Your choice to teach in the first place is a response to God's calling. Whether you heeded the whispering call of His still, small voice or finally responded to the Holy Spirit taking you by the shoulders and redirecting your path, you are right where you belong. Rest in that!