Inspiration for a Generosity Freely Lavished beyond Ability

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A surprise birthday party, Christmas presents, and Valentine’s Day goodies: the generosity of my students catches me off guard every time. I had the privilege of posting about what I learned from their gifts a week and a half ago at Laurie O’Connor’s Oaks Ministries blog. Today I’m sending you over there to see my post: Inspiration for a Generosity Freely Lavished beyond Ability.

You may remember Laurie O’Connor from when she posted for me in January: Speaking a Little Too Boldly: Six Principles for When to Speak. While you’re there, I hope you’ll stay a while and read some wisdom from Laurie!

Deep Need, Deep Gladness, and…Deep Timing?

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By Heather Bock

Are you tired of hearing about the election? Read ahead for a blog post that has nothing to do with politics, a post that changes the subject.

If you do want to read and think more about politics, here’s a post of mine that I wrote a month ago: No Election Fear.

Ok, on to something else:

I was 19, in college. I was taking Bible, French, and literature classes, all of which I loved with a passion, but I had no idea how I would use them after I graduated. A drama professor of mine quoted Frederick Buechner as saying, “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” I knew where to find the deep gladness, but how could I meet the world’s deep need with it?

That summer my church planned a trip to Croatia where the participants would teach conversational English to high school students and tell them about our relationship with Jesus. I loved mission trips, so I went and fell in love with teaching. I knew I had found my vocation.

However, at 19, I had a limited view of vocation. I thought it was the only major job I would ever have. Later, I took on the vocation of a cross country coach. I began an unpaid vocation four years after my first son was born—home school teacher. A few years ago, I added in writer (another vocation that may never make me any money). All of these vocations met a need and caused me gladness.

Then I moved to another state and had to combine three of my vocations: home school teaching, writing, and English teaching. All of a sudden, I became busier than I had ever been.

When I am able to come up for a little air during this tri-vocation time, I go for runs, and more than once I’ve seen the cross country team practicing on the campus near my house. I long to join them, and I can’t help but think about how cross country teams usually need extra volunteers—I could share some of my coaching expertise. In addition, my church is looking for a replacement designer and after seeing some of my work, asked if I wanted to apply. How fun would it be to help my church and learn more about design through the process? I’m on the prayer team and recently helped start a new adult Sunday school at my church, both of which meet a great need, but wouldn’t it be great if I also signed up to teach the children’s Sunday school? After all, I really enjoy teaching, and I’m sure they need help!

It has become increasingly obvious to me through all this that the quote I relied on in college is seriously lacking in one area. Yes, our vocation should give us deep gladness. Our vocation should definitely meet the world’s deep need. But it also needs to be pursued at the right time, and just as Solomon in Ecclesiastes wisely states, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven” (Ecc. 3:1, NASB).

It’s not at all hard for me to decide I cannot coach cross country or design for my church right now. I’m simply too busy. However, every time I make a decision about whether I should do something, busy or not, I can’t just run it by the “deep gladness, deep need” test. God’s timing is critical as well. Sometimes we have to say no to a great need even when it is our love and talent.

What Kind of a Teacher Am I?

I had some serious conviction come down from the Lord recently. I can tell it was from Him because it was firm but kindly given, and the aftertaste was not despair resulting in me beating myself up about it with no idea of how to change, but instead hope and an ability to immediately take action on it.

It’s this:

When I am teaching kids either at my homeschool co-op or in a Sunday school or anywhere else, I feel myself come alive. I am engaging and fully engaged. I put my whole effort into it, both during the teaching and during the preparation time. I try to make each child feel important and loved. I love to do it, and I feel God’s presence when I do it. I get confirmation over and over that teaching was what I was called to do, what I was made to do.

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It’s no surprise I love teaching these adorable kids!

However, when I am teaching my own kids at home, I’m distracted by dishes, laundry, and my phone. I do put a lot of effort into it, but I sometimes feel more like a drill sergeant pushing my kids to do their work than an encouraging, engaging cheerleader and coach. I do want each of my children to feel important and loved, but I sometimes find myself frustrated and acting impatiently with them. I still love homeschooling a lot of the time and feel I was called to do it, but it’s definitely a different experience.

I know some of that is natural and normal to the homeschool experience vs. the large group setting experience. I will always be more distracted at home than I would be in a place where I have no other job to do but teach a group of kids all the same age. I also have to make my kids do work they don’t want to do–some of it they’d probably do in a Sunday school without complaint (because of peers willingly doing it and teachers with whom they don’t have as much familiarity), but some of it you’d never find in a Sunday school or homeschool co-op because it’s practice. Practice can be repetitive at times. Practice can be tedious. But practice is necessary to build up a skill.

However, I would never show frustration at a child in a school setting like I show it at home. This is where the conviction comes in. How impatient am I going to let myself be when I’m at home? Am I going to handle discipline issues and frustrations with grace and love like I would in public?

With God’s help, I want to be different. When teaching at home, I want to maintain the same attitude I have when I teach in other places, always with kindness and patience. When I wake every day, I want to ask God to give me the patience, love, and kindness I need to teach my kids well. When I start to be frustrated during the day, through prayer I want love to be my first response.