Every English class that I teach begins with a daily journal prompt on the screen. It is so predictable, in fact, that my beloved students will look to the screen as soon as they enter my room and panic with wide-eyed horror and confusion if a question does not await them. Are we having class? Is she still teaching us today? Is this what anarchy feels like?! I love routines.
It was last year, probably second semester. I asked this question: “If all jobs paid the exact same, what would you want to do?” Now, the fellow educators reading that question know what I was after: what’s your passion? What do you love to do? The hackers reading that question know how to get around it: what could I do that requires the least amount of effort?
The latter path was chosen by a particularly quiet sophomore. His response? I would probably do something easy, like a teacher or something. It’d be easy to be good at.
After talking myself back from the proverbial ledge by remembering he was simply a 15-year-old boy who didn’t know any better (Lord, help me), I gave him academic credit for his honest thought (all I ask for is honesty and complete answers on daily journals) and moved on.
Still, that idea has stayed with me. Not so much the idea that teaching is easy (anyone who does it with even 50% competency will assure you it is anything but), but the ignorance of what an experience is like.
We are prone to believing we could do something better than someone else. We could lead better than our bosses, work harder than our peers, follow more respectfully and obediently than our children and students. We could–we would–do it better than them.
But would we?
I’ve found myself complaining about superiors, following most disrespectfully and walking along the furthest edge of obedience. And this is right after (or during?) complaining to colleagues about the disrespect and lack of obedience of others. I complain about complaining. Yep.
My point isn’t to draw attention to my imperfections (do you really need that reminder?). My point is that we have a personal bias where we think ourselves better than when really we’re not.
It may be true that we could lead better, follow better, and work harder than. It may be true that we already do!
But it’s equally true that instead of complaining, pointing fingers, and saying how much better we could do, how about we lead by example? Show what it’s like to lead with humility, wisdom and grace. Demonstrate working hard while balancing life’s requirements. Without asking for a medal through complaining, follow and support with obedience and respect that stems from love rooted in the heart. And quietness.
Leading wayward followers is easy? Prove it.
Following with an obedient heart is simple? Prove it.
Being a teacher is easy? *eye twitch* Prove it.
You could do so much better? Prove it. I’ll be seeking to prove it, too.