Over the last week, I had the privilege of attending the East Coast Pastors Conference with some of the men from our church. It is hard to put into words the experience because to encapsulate the overwhelming work of the Holy Spirit in those few days in words would not begin to do it justice.
I was coming off three days of being filled with the word of God over the last several days feeling ready to conquer the world. My mind was clear; I felt a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit, and the Lord used the presenters to pierce through me multiple times. Then there was the fourth day when I returned to the reality of life; I went to school, the chaos was the same, and the attitudes of others were the same, if not worse. When I came forth with an idea or moved forward with my work, complaints seemed louder, the attitudes of my staff were increasing, and the students were already checking out.
The last few years in education have been a battle on many forefronts. However, looking at just student learning loss alone is where I am going with this. The pandemic, virtual instruction, low academic levels, and poor home situations have continuously put students where I am at a deficit as far as academic growth is concerned. Combine that with struggling social and emotional skills, and there is a recipe for lifelong-struggling learners. Last school year, I talked with my friend, a master math teacher, about why we have no master special education teacher. Within a month, the Lord would act, and the district created a master special education position. This is the short version of how I came out of the classroom and started my new role.
Within this role, I work with seven K-8 buildings, all the special education teachers, model lessons, review data, work with building administrators, district administrators, review data, etc. It is a job that allows me to get in the mix of things and help improve the programming and experience for our special education students.
As we come together to brainstorm how to take on next year and address things like learning loss, I look forward to a positive approach while others look with low expectations and list all the things the students cannot do. It is frustrating in many ways because I tell my friend, who I work closely with, that the Lord put me here to do this work, yet there seem to be more negative people who want to go against where I want to help take the special education department.
The Pastor at the conference reminded us of what Nehemiah experienced during the rebuilding of the temple wall:
18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set[a] their hands to this good work.19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?”20 So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore, we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”
It is an excellent reminder that when taking on a task, handling situations at work, and especially doing the work of the Lord in ministry, some will discourage you. Nehemiah looked through the laughs and those who despised his work because he was called to it by the Lord. Nehemiah continued with the work and did not allow himself to be distracted from doing the work of the Lord.
Nehemiah 6: 1-4, Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, [a]Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), 2 that Sanballat and [b]Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together [c]among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”4 But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner.
These verses have deeply imprinted upon me and convicted me.
I look through my role within my work, as a family leader, and as I work through ministry, I see the importance of understanding that some will attempt to discourage me from the path the Lord has set. Those seeds of doubt should not allow me to contemplate to make decisions based on fear but rather remain steadfast in truth and the authority of the word of God. This I know I can rest assure when my decisions can remain made in my faith.
So, I ask, are you staying on course or being discouraged?