Wednesday, December 7, 2011


One of my pastors said something remarkable this past Sunday:
Many of walk us walk around living life as practical atheists: believing that our money, position, and influence are all the work of our own hands.

The sermon was focused on the story of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, who was humbled by God so that he could see that God had given him all of his money position, and influence. By the end of Daniel 4, Nebby, as his friends called him, had come to the realization that everything in his power was actually given to him by God. Everything that he owned was given to him by God. Everyone that he influenced was given to him by God.

In my head, I know that God has given me everything I have, but I don't often think of that in terms of influence. At the end of the sermon, Stuart asked the question, "How could I leverage my position to make a difference?". As always, I immediately think of my students. There have been so many students that have come and gone through my classroom that I have not impacted in any spectacular way. However, I know there are students that have been changed because they had me as a teacher. That is an incredible joy for me, but also an incredible pressure- because I know that I can make a difference in someone's life.

My number one person this year is named Tyler.

Tyler isn't on my team. I don't have him for homeroom. I don't teach him language arts. We met by accident. My best friend teaches him, and I happened to be in her classroom one day, so he started talking to me.

I have become his refuge. If he gets in trouble in a class, he gets sent to my room.
I have become his reward. If he has a great day, his prize is to come hang out with me.
I have become his encourager. I seek him out all day long to ask him how things are going in each of his classes. And he comes to tell me about his days- good and bad.

Hearing Stuart on Sunday made me realize that God has given me influence on Tyler. Not my age or the fact that I don't teach him. But God alone has given me that influence. It makes me realize that I have 5 more months to be Tyler's influence, but the impact of that influence could go long beyond that.

The realization has made me so much more aware of the way I speak to my students, especially Tyler. To speak truth to them. To make sure that they know that you love them- whether you can directly say it or not. To make sure that their behavior doesn't change the fact that I have chosen to love them. To give grace every single day. To discipline when out of my desire for them to be better people, not so I can have control.

God uses me to influence people. I just have to be sure to influence them in the way that brings glory to God.

Do you have a "Tyler"?

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