I’ve spent most of my life hanging with children. Even now, as a senior citizen, kids impact my life on a daily basis. A lot of my close friends are children and we have loads of fun together.
I enjoy being their friend. However, if I compromise my beliefs or shirk my responsibilities to them just so they’ll like me, I’m not doing them any favors. At times, I have to make tough calls knowing I’m not winning any popularity contests. Unfortunately, I’ve seen teachers who want to be liked by the children, so much so, they will forego doing the right thing.
When boundaries in a classroom (whether in academia or Sunday School) aren’t set then frustration and anger usually raise their ugly heads. I’ve seen folks put up with complete chaos because they want to be the “cool” teacher; after all, “cool” teachers don’t scold or bring discipline. The fact is learning doesn’t take place either.
Sometimes I have to bring correction to a child. Sometimes I have to give them a resounding “No!” Sometimes I have to remind the child their actions or words aren’t acceptable. It’s okay. It’s okay because these children know I want what is best for them. We’ve hung out together enough that they know my heart.
*Proverbs 3:11, 12 states, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” God loves me enough to bring reproof. It’s for my own good and He knows it. I need to care enough to do what is best for the children too.
I learned this lesson the hard way. The first year I taught at a church school, it took almost the entire year before I gave out my first demerit. When I finally did, I felt terrible and bawled like a baby. Fortunately, the second demerit was a whole lot easier to give. As a result, it brought structure to my classroom which was desperately needed.
If I truly love these children, then there’ll be occasions when I’ll need to speak the harder things into their lives. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or that I like doing it. But it’s necessary. I want them to understand these boundaries are for their good. My desire is for them to grow into responsible adults able to function in a challenging world. I’m not doing them any favors by coddling them.
Sometimes I have to “speak the truth in love**” even when they don’t like what I have to say. I care about them enough to put forth the effort.