“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
(Proverbs 16:3)

If any of you reading this devotional have worked in education or mentored young people, you’re probably familiar with the feeling of discouragement that comes from pouring into a young person (or in my case, a student) and seeing what appears to be the fruit of all your labor shriveling up.

For me, to name just a few memories, it looked like working closely with a student the entire year to help them get a passing grade only for them to give up the last few weeks of school and fail my class. One time it was coaching a student through frequent instances of poor classroom behavior only for there to be no obvious improvement the entire school year. Another time I built a strong relationship with a student that broke down when I held them accountable for poor behavior or a poor choice they made because they couldn’t handle constructive criticism. Another time it looked like helping a student (whose environment largely set them up for failure) begin to flourish in their academics only for them to do drugs at school one day and get expelled, with their choices taking them beyond my sphere of influence where I could no longer support them.

It’s times like this when Proverbs 16:3 gently reminds me that even if I get horribly discouraged by my efforts to help students flourish, I can rest in God’s sovereign plan for each and every student I feel I couldn’t reach or that committed self-sabotage. Maybe I couldn’t personally help them change or maybe I can’t see the impact I made on them, but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying, because God is beside me through all my “failures,” working, moving and guiding.

This is also when I have to remember the valuable but hard lesson that as a teacher, sometimes I’m not even planting seeds with my students, I’m really just preparing the soil for them. The wonderful thing about being a Christian is that I can rest in a bigger plan outside my own efforts, and trust that God is working even when all I can see looks like a hot mess or complete failure. I am so grateful to be reminded that what we see is not the whole story!

Ashley Carr
High School Teacher

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