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Humble Yourself, Make Friends With Students
By An Xin
I have been engaged in teaching for more than 20 years. In my students’ eyes, I’m a good teacher who is either strict or conscientious and responsible. In the past, I taught in a primary school all the time. Afterward I was transferred to a middle school to do support services, being in charge of the student dormitories. The middle school students were not so obedient as the pupils, and they even more had their own ideas. Moreover, the present students were willful and they wouldn’t like to listen to what the teachers said. Therefore, it was not easy for me to do this job. Sometimes, when the students didn’t listen to me, I lost my temper. I really didn’t have any idea how to make a good job of taking charge of student dormitories.
One early morning, the bell on the telephone to wake the students rang. I hurried to turn on the lights of one dormitory after another and asked them to get up, wash and do the cleaning. Then I went to the corridor, washroom and each dormitory to supervise and inspect the sanitary conditions. When I went to the washroom, I saw a girl was doing some cleaning very unwillingly. She was pinching a rag between her thumb and first finger and swinging it in the washbasin, without the slightest thought to clean the washroom. So I approached and said to her, “Can you use the rag to wipe the washbasin with strength and be on duty well?” Unexpectedly, she answered at once, “My hands are wounded. I can’t do it.” I spoke in a lecturing tone, “Where does it hurt? Let me see.” But she hemmed and hawed and said here at one time and there at another time. I felt that she wanted to be lazy purposely and wouldn’t work properly. Therefore, I spoke to her angrily, “Clean it properly. Do you hear?” I never thought that she, stiff-necked and squinting, said to me, “I don’t do it.” Then she angrily threw down the rag, and walked off. Looking at her leaving, I was very angry and thought: What kind of student is this? You don’t respect me at all. You don’t pay any mind to me. You wait. See how I’ll deal with you this evening.
On that evening I walked in the corridor and saw the students going back to their dormitories. I still recalled the scene that I had a quarrel with that girl in the morning and wondered why she had such a hot temper and didn’t allow me to criticize her at all. … When I reached the end of the corridor, suddenly I heard someone banging the door. The deafening sound scared me so that my pulse speeded up and I couldn’t help but tremble. I angrily opened the door and found the girl, who threw down the rag in the morning, standing behind the door. Immediately I understood: Wasn’t she fighting back against the thing in the morning with power? Thinking of this, I asked furiously, “What do you mean? Are you not satisfied with me or do you want revenge? You are so bold. How dare you provoke me? I’ll tell your behavior to your head teacher.” Just then, the director who took charge of student dormitories came. Both she and I began to criticize the girl. Nonetheless, after we only said a few words, she turned and ran down the stairs. Because I needed to supervise other students, I couldn’t go after her and then I called her head teacher. The teacher told me something about the girl: “She is from a single-parent family. Later her father remarried. What’s more, her father and stepmother worked in another place. She can’t go to see them except holidays. Before, she lived with her grandma. Afterward her grandma started a new family. From then on, every Sunday she doesn’t know where she should go, and she feels she is rather unwanted no matter where she goes. Living in this environment, how can she not feel pained?” Hearing these words, I felt a wave of sorrow and thought: Right. She is lacking in love and hasn’t genuinely experienced the warmth of home. No wonder she is disobedient. However, as a teacher, I never learn about the reasons why the students don’t listen to me. Instead, I always think that I’m their teacher and they’re my students, so they should listen to me. I’ve never reflected that when I educate them, why they are antagonistic and talk back.
Later on, I read God’s words, “When you fellowship the truth and speak the words in your heart, and describe something clearly and understandably, so that it can edify and benefit others, make them understand God’s will, and help them escape misunderstandings and fallacies, is there any need to stand on high? Is there any need to use a lecturing tone? You don’t need to scold them, you don’t need to speak loudly, or shout at them, much less use words, or a tone, or an intonation that are blunt. You just need to learn to use a normal tone, commune from the position and status of an ordinary person, speak calmly, speak the words in your heart, endeavor to pour out what you understand, what other people need to understand, and speak clearly and understandably. When what you say is understandable, other people will understand, your burden will be released, they will cease to have misunderstandings, and you will see what you say more clearly; isn’t this edifying both of you?” (“What Should One Possess, at the Very Least, to Have Normal Humanity”).
Through reading God’s word, I realized, “Ordinarily, I always used a lecturing tone to speak to the students; I never listened to and learned about their troubles and difficulties but repressed them all the time; I at all times controlled them from a teacher’s status and wanted to let them listen to me at every step and absolutely obey me; if they were being a little disobedient, I would be angry and lose my temper; I always snapped at them and only wanted them to fear me and even completely obey me. Now I see myself living in arrogant disposition and lecturing the students from my position of status all the time. This resulted in their being unconvinced. I should get off my high horse and sincerely communicate with them to know about their sufferings, to become a bosom friend to them, to assist them in resolving their confusion in the hearts and difficulties in life. I should practice according to God’s words and get on with them normally.” Then I came before God and prayed to Him, “Oh, God! I’m willing to practice Your words and no longer stand on a teacher’s position to manage the students. I’m willing to let go of my pride and keep a low profile. I want to have a good talk with that girl and make an apology to her. Nevertheless, I have been harmed so deeply by Satan that I can’t put aside my status and face. May You help and guide me. ”
After praying, I stayed quietly in my office. Suddenly I thought of God’s words, “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements, or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. … If you are incapable of this, then you do not bear testimony among your family members, among your brothers and sisters, or before the people of the world” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God”).
Under the guidance of God’s words, I secretly made the inward determination: I must bear witness to God and humiliate Satan in the circumstance that God arranges. At the moment, there was a light knock at the door. As I said “come in,” the girl, who ran out because of being criticized just now, came before me timidly and said to me in a low voice, “I’m sorry, teacher. I was wrong just now. Later on, I’ll no longer offend you.” Seeing her do it, I wanted to hurriedly admit my mistake to her. However, I hesitated. If I did so, how would I build up my prestige before the students later? Wouldn’t I lose my face? What’s more, would she push her luck and even more not obey me? If other students knew this, what would they think? Would they be still obedient to me? At this point, I thought of the following passage from “Fellowship and Preaching About Life Entry,” “Someone clearly made a mistake, but he still didn’t admit it. What is this behavior dominated by? By a nature. That is “Gentility without ability is worse than plain beggary.” For the sake of his own face, he spoke of the wrong as the right. Isn’t this Satan’s demonic disposition? Isn’t this the great red dragon’s nature? If we believers in God really make mistakes, how should we practice? We should dare to expose them and admit them. We should call a spade a spade and say, ‘I’m wrong, and it’s my fault. What I thought at this point caused me to make that mistake. Later on, I won’t do this kind of thing any longer.’ These are ones who are willing to practice the truth.” I didn’t dare to speak because of being ruled by face and status and being dominated by the satanic poison “A tree lives for its bark and a man lives for his face.” I should practice the truth, shame Satan and bravely admit my fault. I cried out to God in my heart again and again, “Oh, God! May You help me let go of my status and pride, keep a low profile, become the students’ friend and make an apology to the girl.…” After the prayer, I felt that I had the confidence and strength to practice the truth. I refused to maintain my face and status. Then I hurriedly said, “It isn’t your fault but mine. Not only did I not acquaint myself with your sufferings, but I criticized you. I am an incompetent teacher. Later, let’s become friends, shall we? If you need help, just tell me, such as pouring a glass of hot water, making a call or using needle and thread. If there is anything I can do, just let me know. If you have anything unhappy in your heart, you can chat with me.” At my words, she immediately held my hands tightly, and she was so touched that her eyes became full of tears and she was choked up. At that moment, not only did I not feel she was repugnant, but I felt she was lovely. From then on, she never locked horns or resisted me.
Through this experience, I felt when I brought God’s words into real life and my work, I had the way to follow. And I also experienced that doing in this way could let me live out normal humanity, get along well with others and work cheerfully and easily. Just as God’s words says, “The future direction will be thus: Those who gain the utterances from God’s mouth will have a path to walk on earth, and be they businessmen or scientists, or educators or industrialists, those who are without God’s words will have a hard time taking even a single step, and will be forced to seek the true way. This is what is meant by, ‘With the truth you’ll walk the entire world; without the truth, you’ll get nowhere.’” (“A Brief Talk About ‘The Millennial Kingdom Has Arrived’”).
Because I practiced God’s word, humbled myself, got on equally with the students and loved every of them with sincerity, I obtained some unexpected results. They were going to take the high school entrance examination, and under such a great deal of stress, they were the most depressed, unsettled and unmanageable in this period. But they were unusually obedient and sensible, and didn’t go back to the dormitory very late or escape from the school at night. Every night they all went to bed on time and didn’t make any noise; every morning they did the cleaning very well and made their beds very tidily. I didn’t even need to supervise, for they consciously obeyed the rules. Therefore, nothing went wrong in the scope of my work. This made other teachers wonder: Why do we shout all day but the students still don’t listen to us? Why does she speak gently to students but they are obedient? I heartily thanked God for His guidance, which made my unmanageable pleasant and easy. Every time I saw other teachers worry about students’ playing truant or being disobedient, I felt I was especially lucky and also deeply felt the preciousness of God’s words, and the transcendence and greatness of God’s love. I experienced the happiness of putting truth into practice and transforming my corrupt disposition.
When I was walking on my way home off work, the sun was rising. The glory of the morning tinted half the sky. The flaming of sunrise, and green hills and clear water gave radiance and beauty to one another. It was very beautiful. Such a wonderful sight was just God’s masterpiece and the giving of the Almighty. Looking at it, I set my resolve, “I’m willing to practice God’s word and repay His love with a true heart. This is my pursuit in life.”
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