Yesterday on the way home from work I was listening to a podcast from North Point Community Church. We used one of Andy Stanley's curriculums in a class I took at church, and I so enjoyed and learned from his messages that I subscribed to the church's podcast. Every single message has something relative to my life. Their messsages are also available on the church's website.
Yesterday's message was called "Great Expectations". It was given by Joel Thomas, who is maybe an associate pastor there? Not sure. Anyway, he began with a funny story about how he stayed home with a sick child but took great steps to make sure his wife didn't expect that he would be able to do that typically. Then he realized that her expectations are what she believes about him, and of course he'd want her to believe that his family was his priority over work and of course he would cancel whatever to be there if his family needed him. People who expect nothing from you or expect the worst from you are generally not your biggest fans.
Then he linked this to Paul's letter to the Galatians. Paul first makes a case that salvation is by faith in Jesus rather than by works, but then he turns right around and gives a whole list of things Christians don't/can't do. Thomas talked about how some peoples' reasons for not being Christian or participating in the church community are along the lines of "I can't live up to all that, so why bother?" There are times I've felt that myself. I'm not that good. I can't do that. I can't be that.
His take? What if those "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots" are God's expectations of us? His belief in what we are capable of being. God's version of "any kid can grow up to be the President", I guess. Not that He is condemning us when we try and fail, but that He is showing us His goal for us, cheering us on: "You can do it. You can be it."
This was all an interesting concept, and then he really brought it home for me. He said there are two types of people in the world: referees and cheerleaders. The referees always point out what you do wrong; whereas the cheerleaders, no matter what you do, are always cheering you on. Always believing in you and what you could be. (Now that I think of it, it also reminds me of a line from church on Sunday. Pastor Mark was talking about relationships and what we want from each other. He said that women typically are looking for affection, and men are typically looking for affirmation. One quote struck me: "He is becoming what you say about him." So, eventually, "You never..." becomes the truth.) He said that rather than be a referee and always be pointing out peoples' mistakes, he wanted to be the kind of person who was always encouraging them in what they were and were becoming.
Being a first-grade teacher AND parent, I feel like I spend my life being a referee. "Tweet!" --you talked out. "Tweet!" --that's rude. "Tweet!"--You aren't listening. Of course, I am always encouraging my students and children, but it made me think which aspect they remember more. I don't want to be a referee. I want to bring out the very best in the people around me, especially the ones who are entrusted to my care. So, today as I was teaching math, B. was not with me AT ALL. She has some real behavior and defiance issues, and as I called her on it, I could see her anger rise. Be a cheerleader, I told myself. Then, I got down close to her, put my hand on hers, and told her, "I know you can be such a great listener. You're so good at this. Just pull out that good listening and stay with me."
You know, her face cleared, she smiled, she sat up, and she got back with us. It is so easy to react, especially at the end of the school year. It's a whole other thing to act in love. I have a lot to learn from the Bible, but this is one lesson I'm hanging onto.