“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” Isaiah 61:1
I was in 4th grade. I was fortunate enough to sit directly behind the cutest guy in my class. I brought my journal to school that day. Unfortunately I had not yet learned how dangerous it was to bring private things into public places. As I sat there at my desk, staring at the back of his head, I took out my journal and began to write and doodle about how much I loved him and how I wished he would pass me that football folded note that says “will you go out with me? Please check yes or no.” Somewhere, completely lost in space and time, I tuned out our teacher, who was diligently trying to teach us math. Math, was not one of my favorite subjects. The only math I cared about in the moment was 1+1= 2. So it was from this glorious state of obliviousness, that I was awakened by my teacher who would march over to me, rip my journal off my desk, and read its contents to the entire class. It was not until much later, while in counseling over my tendency to sink into deep shame, that I shared that story and had someone tell me how deeply dehumanizing it was. I believe this was just one instance in my childhood that, added to many others, would build the case in my head for personal stupidity and incompetence. I have since learned that the enemy takes unfortunate situations and uses them to affirm false presuppositions, keeping us insecure and immobilized. When James speaks of the impact of a small object like the tongue, I am very aware. Bad words are powerful. They lead to bondage.
However, there are also those whose words God has used to unearth rotten ideas planted deep in my heart. I had a professor in college who challenged me to take a class I had no business taking. It was neuroscience. I was not a science major, far from it. I barley passed any science in high school. But he took an interest in my mind. He challenged my view of myself based on my past experiences. He motivated me to get out of my comfort zone, and dare to fail. I have a strict rule against trying anything at which I don’t believe I will succeed. So I took this class, one of the hardest of my life, and I passed. I don’t think I even came close to comprehending the majority of the information, but what I did learn was the courage to act on the good things others see in me. Good words are powerful. They lead to life.
There are years worth of poignant words in my head, said in such a place and time that it completely changed or affirmed the trajectory of my life. I’ve had a number of teachers who have spoken to me like I was the smallest person in the room, pointed out weaknesses in front of judgmental peers, and by their attitudes and actions affirmed some of my deepest fears. I have also had many to love me like I was their own child, speak life, light, and truth into my heart and mind. They encouraged, affirmed and empowered me in my gifts, radically changing the way in which I viewed myself, others, and God.
Many of you have stories like mine. This is why it is imperative if you have been given the gift of teaching, that you use it by the power of His Spirit. It is important that you teach with your lives and your words, the truth of God’s love, forgiveness and grace. The world is full of self-proclaimed teachers who use their power and authority to rip tender souls apart. May you be willing to allow God to use you, to bandage the broken hearted and speak truth where there are lies. If not you, then who?