Tuesday, March 12, 2024

The Message in the Misfortune

Don't miss the message in the misfortune! Instead, ask "What lesson is there for me?"

When I was a newly minted teacher at Biola, I attended a very prestigious meeting of biblical scholars called the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting. In attendance were some of the most famous scholars of the day. I mean, their names were very well known. Their publications were standard classroom textbooks. As for me, I hadn't even earned my doctorate yet, and I certainly didn't have any publications under my belt. I happened to stumble upon one such scholar in the hallway between sessions. Although I felt intimidated even to approach him, I drummed up the courage to introduce myself. We chatted for a few seconds. Suddenly he saw a colleague of his -- a man of equally grand status in the scholarly community -- and, without saying a word, abruptly walked away to speak with him.

Think back to your own experiences. Remember when the opposing basketball team gloated over their victory when they defeated you in the championship game? There was a message in the misfortune. You were reminded of the importance of good sportsmanship. Or how about the time you failed that exam in college? You were reminded of the need to develop good study skills and self-discipline. Do you remember being betrayed by that person you trusted and loved? You were reminded of the importance of loyalty.

What lesson did I learn from my encounter with that scholar? I was reminded of the importance of listening. When students feel heard, their potential for success multiplies exponentially. When we listen to our students, they feel honored as individuals. 

If you're a teacher, get in the habit of asking your students questions about themselves. When we are genuinely curious about what they say, we are communicating an authentic desire to get to know them beyond the classroom. Good listening can make teaching more enjoyable both for you and for your students.

Learn to give God thanks for each situation, whether good or bad. There's a message in it!