This morning it was my turn to lead staff devotions. Sometimes you have been so on fire and inspired by something God has taught you recently, which makes this task easy. And other times, He's just been giving quiet whispers that are hard to put a finger on. This week was the latter for me, and I felt nervous about coming up with something meaningful. A lot of times I hear devotions that are sweet and thoughtful, but to be honest, that's not the kind of thing I feel inspired by. I like the hard stuff, the applicable stuff, the convicting stuff. I finally stumbled onto a teacher devotional online that I liked, and one of the entries was about 1 Corinthians 13. Seeing that reminded me that just this week I had been studying the words of that passage for a wedding craft I was working on. I was thrilled to have figured out God's quiet whisper to me this week. (I was also thrilled to think that God teaches me stuff when I don't even realize He's doing it!)
My wedding craft demanded that I reword the passage to be positives about love (what it IS not what it ISN'T) and demanded that I shorten them so they'd fit on what I needed them to fit on. It was a whispered blessing from God as I studied those words so that I could write them in wording that made sense and was concise. It was like reading parallel translations. I always enjoy doing that. I got out my [online] thesaurus and found synonyms and antonyms and came up with a beautiful list about what love is. I decided to tweak the list a little more by adding situations applicable to teaching where that characteristic of love would be needed.
I don't know how God manages to do this, but even though I don't really love leading devotions or small groups, when it is a needed moment for me to do so, I always get overwhelming, positive feedback afterwards. It's been a sweet reminder from God that even if I fail at something (leading a small group when I was in college is a memory I've tried to erase!) it doesn't mean I'm not good at it or that He can't use me in that capacity again later.
I wanted to share with you what my colleagues specifically requested me to email out to them after I shared this morning.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT)
Love is patient with students who ask how to do something after you've just explained it while they were talking to their neighbor
Love is kind with students who are in need of discipline
Love is content with the students and parents God has blessed you with for such a time as this
Love is humble when parents question how well you're doing your job
Love is modest when receiving praise and is quick to bring the spotlight to someone else
Love is honoring when you think your idea is better than someone else's
Love is selfless when you just want to eat lunch in peace but a student needs you
Love is peaceful when test anxiety or birthday excitement is high
Love is forgiving when parents talk behind your back
Love is truthful when you're having a really hard time and need someone to help take something off your plate
Love is protecting when other students are picking on one of God's beloved children
Love is trusting when enrollment numbers need to increase
Love is persevering when spring fever hits and no one seems to be listening to your magnificent lesson
Love wins when the enemy tells you you're not as good at your job as someone else
Knowledge and language will disappear, and all that will be left is faith, hope, and love.
The greatest of these is love.