Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why Your Kids' Teachers Are Heroes . . . At Least Most of Them

Recently we took three of our grandsons to one of their favorite science museums. But as we drove into the parking lot we saw bus after bus parked end to end and knew that meant one thing . . . school field trips and lots of them. Kids would be everywhere.

Sure enough there were lots of elementary and middle school students walking through the exhibits with their teachers herding, guiding and cajoling as kids that age do what they do. And I was reminded that these teachers do this every day and it is not easy.

Are there crummy, incompetent teachers out there? Of course. I have had some here and there from elementary to graduate school. But there are way more who in their own way are stellar making a difference in our lives and the lives of our children.

Sure there are lousy teachers just like there are lousy employees in most professions. No teacher is perfect either. It irritates me, having been a teacher of all kinds much of my life, when parents have to have a certain special teacher and obnoxiously demand their kids have only "the best." The best ones aren't only those who turn our kids into academic superstars, however. In fact if that's all they do they aren't necessarily the best.

Let me suggest what a great teacher is and does:

Great teachers love and respect our kids as individuals. They don't expect everyone in their class to look, perform or respond the same. They get excited when a child has a unique talent and then they get to help them develop it. They care about the brightest and those more average. Each one matters to great teachers.

Great teachers see potential and they don't give up. My tenth and eleventh grade English teacher was the toughest in the school. And during my sophomore year I hoped to God that I would only have her one year. Not to be. She was my guide for half of my high school education. But Mrs. G never quit on me and plowed the foundation for me to learn and love writing like I do today. There must have been days when she thought there was no hope for me but she looked ahead not back.

Great teachers build relationships along with enforcing their rules. Classes need structure and students will require discipline. But every kid needs someone who knows and cares about them. How many young people have no parent that cares and no one to simply listen to them? Teachers can help fill the gap and provide some needed affirmation missing from home. Not every child will let them get close but they try anyway.

So as the school year begins again, how about praying now for your kids' teachers and thanking God together for them. Many families of course will never thank these heroes personally or will wait twenty years to realize how important they were to them. Your words of appreciation during the year will also mean more to them than you can know and you will remind those special leaders that their passion for teaching really has been worth it.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sometimes The Big Things Are In The Little Ones

Big events and accomplishments always seem to get more attention, don't they?  Eighty-thousand people in a stadium always feels more exciting than eight hundred. An ad campaign that touches millions is usually view as better than one that impacts a few hundred.

Even service projects are deemed more worthwhile when we know that many, many people were helped versus just a few. And there is something to say for using our resources of time, talent and energy so that the greatest results can be achieved.

However, there are times when it seems like we've forgotten the potential impact of the one or two people we or our family might touch. When we help a neighbor or friend, assist one homeless person or volunteer for one morning God can use us to make a huge difference. At the moment, not necessarily. 

But as we do our share along with hundreds or even thousands of others BIG things can happen. Too many churches, non-profits and even individuals seem to think that success is only measured by the ton or at least the giant size version of congregation, money raising or community impact.

You hear it all the time . . . ."Yes, we're believing that ________________ people or churches or groups (or whatever) will be changed or take part or raise so many dollars or grow to a certain size."  And we should be thankful when hard work, prayer and commitment do result in important and significant outcomes.

But let's never miss the power of doing something small now for a greater result later and in tandem with others engaged in the same.

What might that mean in the everyday?  First, we will enjoy the little "wins" and blessings we see in our churches. We'll be thankful for the one or two new people who came, the one marriage that was saved and the few students who joined the youth group this last month.

Second, we'll be even more intentional about helping just one or two people each day. We'll look for those small opportunities to help a neighbor, friend or someone we just meet during the day.  We'll relish that we had that one God-moment to make this small difference in someone's life believing that God can use it for a far greater good.

Third, we'll teach our kids and model for each other an attitude of serving and giving that has no minimum on how much we accomplish. Caring and serving will simply become more of the norm at our house.

You see BIG things don't necessarily happen in big ways. They happen more often because people with just a little resource give it away believing something big will occur anyway.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Really Living? Most of Us Miss It

When is the last time you felt really alive? In fact, when is the last time you noticed something more than the fact that you were just existing? I would suggest that most of us miss the opportunity most of the time.

Why? Well, it's not because we're not breathing or our heart is not beating.

It's just that there's not that much we enjoy that takes our breath away or causes our heart to skip a beat. Of course there are lots of opportunities. We are usually just too busy doing the everyday and the mundane to truly engage with the spark in every one of us known as life.

I know it's not fun to be out of breath or to have a racing heart but we would at least notice our body functioning in some unique way and be reminded that we are not dead. In fact, noticing would be hard to avoid.

You see we need something that jolts us out of our cruise-controlled life and reminds us that the life within us is truly special, unique and ultimately amazing. Pain works. So does shock or tragedy or some other sudden interruption of our normalcy.

But there are other and better ways to be reminded of and enjoy life without the negative prompts. We might also want to engage in them more and even give our family members similar opportunities on a more regular basis.

Slow down. Instead of driving the fast way home, take the long way. Turn the radio off. Walk instead of drive. Skip an evening responsibility and stay home. Simplify your days even a little. I hear of more and more people these days who are downsizing. They have realized they don't need it all. Neither do you.

Do what you were meant to do as much as what you have to do. Some things in life are boring and required. Everything doesn't have to be fun nor can it be. But somewhere in our week, month and year we need to engage in what we naturally do and love. Use those skills to serve others and pay it forward. Find a ministry that gives you the opportunity to do what you can't live without and you'll feel alive most very time.

How do you know what that is?  I don't have an easy answer other than you'll know. You will do it with very little effort, the time will fly and it will probably involve other people.

Spend more time with the people you love and just enjoy watching them live, breathe and move. Become amazed at their talent, artistry, uniqueness and abandon. Sing, dance and enjoy with them if you can. And don't rush whatever you are doing. Let it simmer. Embrace the moments more.

Little children are a great place to start. So are seniors or those with special needs. Just start looking and you'll see what you need to see.

Pray for wisdom to keep learning where life will show up for you. Feeling alive isn't a one-time thing. Once you get a taste you will want more but you will have to fight off the inertia that will try to keep you from more and returning to the sameness of life beforehand. Don't give in.

Everyday those lifegiving opportunities are everywhere. We don't need to hunt for them. They will find us if we let them and we'll never be the same.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.