Be Kind

Today’s Passage: 2 Timothy 2:23-26

There are days when being a teacher is hard. I have a dear friend who has recently gone back to junior high teaching after time at the college level, and I am just shocked and disheartened sometimes at some of the work she is having to do to manage her instruction, her classroom, and her sanity. But I have to be careful to not compare our teaching environments. Thinking you have it easy or no “major” issues can move you from careful to careless quickly.

This last set of verses in 2 Timothy 2 reminds me of the challenges of teaching and how they align with life in ministry, as well as just living a faithful life when others are around you working through what faith means for them and looking to you for answers.Be Kind

Paul’s advice to Timothy serves as a constant reminder to not get comfortable or distracted. We can easily find ourselves, whether in the classroom or in the church or in the living room, caught up in conversations about life and faith that are full of arguments and contentions. I know for me, teaching college students, I am often surrounded by statements and positions that are essential claims without evidence or critical thinking. It can be easy to react to these statements and plough through them with the intention of “setting the record straight” or “checking them.”

But those of us committed to teach as well as committed to enduring in the faith are called to live and speak and lead by a different standard. Paul writes:

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. (2 Tim. 2:23-25a)

Paul’s instruction here is clear. If we want to endure in the faith and be a leader of others, we have to proceed with kindness. His words apply to every sphere of our lives. For me as a teacher/faculty member, I have to remove myself from the office politics and unproductive controversies. I must not look to argue over petty things, but instead just be gracious in thought and action to everyone. I must not only teach, but be equipped and prepared to teach. I must patiently endure grade complaints, unfair compensation, and downright mean behavior. And when those moments arise when I must address a wrong for the good of the order, I am called to do so with gentleness–being mindful and sensitive to the other person as much as a mindful and careful with the content being explained.

Teaching can be challenging. And if teaching in a school is challenging, how much more so is living a life of faith that is a lesson before the entire world?! People will attack our faith and seek to bait us into arguments about the most minute points of doctrine, but our call is to be kind and gentle in all things.

Have you ever wanted to “be right” more than you wanted to “be kind”?

The good news is, we do not walk alone and each moment in the faith we are accompanied by the Spirit of God as our helper, counselor, support, and friend. Also, we do not have to carry the responsibility of making those who see it wrong, see it right. Read on to what Paul says:

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:25b-26)

Paul makes it clear that sometimes it takes more effort to be kind and gentle, because we are working with people who are not genuinely on a mission for the Lord but for the enemy. Ouch. But God–and only God–has the power to lead those challenging students to a moment where they turn around and see themselves in the light of His truth and come to their senses. Our job is not to give them our two cents or to knock some sense into them, but to stay in the ready position, walk in the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…) and trust Him to do the truly hard work of changing hearts and minds.

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