Every year I teach a number of lessons at Royal Mission’s Full-time School. That is our beautiful Bible school, which we started 13 years ago in Drachten. This season we started again with an extraordinary group of 23 students between the ages of 18 and 25.
The first day I teach, I present myself as one of the strictest teachers they will get. Not to scare them, but to make clear agreements. For example, I want them to be in the classroom on time when I come to teach them. Perhaps simple, but always a challenge for these young people.
Why do I do that? My approach is as follows. I drive almost 2 hours from Veenendaal to get to Drachten on time and well prepared, so that I can serve them with a lesson. If they do not arrive at class on time, it is dishonorable to me as a teacher. I give my efforts and ask the same of them. If they arrive late, I kindly ask them to leave class and come back half an hour later. When, after thirty minutes, they ask with a tight throat whether they are welcome again, they are 100% welcome. I’m never angry for a moment, just consistently.
In this way I try to teach students to take responsibility for their actions and their lives. No reactive behavior determined by circumstances, but proactive living so that they take control and are responsible for their actions.
I always make very clear agreements about homework and assignments with the new students. If they have to submit a reflection report by email, I work with them to determine the exact date and time when their paper must be received. For example, 3 weeks later on October 29 at 12:00 am. A piece that is not received on time will not be read.
In the weeks that follow, the first reports slowly start to trickle in. On October 29 in question the current swelled somewhat. When the clock goes towards 00:00 at night, it becomes busier and just before midnight the last homework assignments arrive. And there is almost always one who submits it after closing time.
Aware of the ‘late’ submission, I then receive an accompanying email with the following text: ‘I apologize for submitting my report too late. We were at a baptismal service tonight and it ran really late, so I couldn’t send in my homework on time.’ Sounds nice, but is a typical example of reactive behavior. The student puts the cause completely outside himself and blames the baptismal service for missing the deadline. I don’t read such a paper.
I want to teach these young people not to be guided by their environment and circumstances, but to take control and be guided by their beliefs. That is part of mature behavior and growing in leadership. I want to help them as much as possible.
Would you also like to look in the mirror and think about your behavior? Do you let yourself be guided by the weather, the traffic jams, your upbringing, your salary, your neighbors or do you choose to be guided by God and thus take responsibility for your life? Don’t be reactive, be heavenly proactive. We are called to rule, so take your place and shoulder your responsibilities with flying colors!