The past few weeks of school have been great. For the first time all year, I feel like my students actually respect me and realize how much I care about them as people. A couple of have had breakdowns and told me very personal things about their lives. A few have written me sweet notes or given me candy. A few have simply given me a hug on their way out at the end of the day.
I think about the investment I’ve made in them this year, and I think about the investments that will be (or won’t be) made in the future. People often tell me that teaching middle school is such a privilege because they are so pliable. I couldn’t agree more. I look at my rowdy group of 6th & 7th graders, and I think about how much they’ve matured even in the 7 months that I’ve had them. They’ve grown academically & personally; they’ve learned how to take responsibility for their actions & future; but most importantly they’ve realized they are cared about deeply. I can only hope and pray that their future teachers make the same investment that I have.
At Passion City Church, where I serve in Bloom (the nursery), I am constantly amazed by the investment that the staff makes in the babies, children, and students. So many planning hours, volunteer hours, resources & prayer goes into each week at Bloom. Thinking about PCC’s weekly investment, got me thinking about the rising generation on a larger scale. Who is investing them? Who isn’t that should be? Who shouldn’t be that is? It doesn’t take much to have a significant impact on a middle schooler.
Think about when you were 12. I know I remember it as a time of innocence and naiveté. Unfortunately, that is not the case for most 12-year olds today. My students have seen much more sex, violence, heartache, loneliness, fear, and uncertainty than I can imagine. I’ve heard it said that by the time a student reaches high school, they’ve already become who they’re going to be. Hard worker. Criminal. Outstanding achiever. Drug dealer.
Every gang banger was once a 12-year old boy.
Every prostitute was once a 12-year old girl.
Every president & political leader was once a 12-year old girl or boy.
Every preacher was once a 12-year old girl or boy.
Every serial killer was once a 12-year old girl or boy.
Every teacher & school administrator was once a 12-year old girl or boy.
Think about that for a second. What makes a student become any of these things? I think it simply comes down to this: influence. Do the good influences outweigh the bad?
So, here’s my proposition for you: Take some time to consider who you are influencing. What do little eyes see when they look at you? Are you influencing their hearts & minds for better or worse? Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, a student, or a cashier, YOU HAVE INFLUENCE. Your age, your social status, your profession–it all gives you influence. Please, use it wisely. It doesn’t take a lot, and you don’t have to have all the answers. Look around at the rising generation and choose to INVEST in them. Reach outside of your comfortable little bubble and show them what it means to be loved & cherished. Be a light in a dark, dark world.