Dear Worn-Out, Run-Down, Absolutely Exhausted Teacher,
Wow – you have almost made it! It is May and the countdown has begun! I know you are tired – deep down to your toes tired. And no wonder! For the past nine months you have poured yourself into your students. By God’s grace you have loved them. You have prayed for them. You have shouldered their burdens. You have cried for them. You have rejoiced with them. You have encouraged them. You have counseled them…and oh, yes – you’ve also taught them English or Math somewhere along the way.
You’re probably sick after your body has finally surrendered to the germs it has been battling all year long.
Even though you are exhausted, you’re probably not sleeping well because of the gazillion school-related thoughts and to-do lists going through your head at night.
You’re stressed when you look at all the curriculum and special events that need to be crammed into the next few weeks.
Your patience is wearing thin – it seems like you have been dealing with some of the same behavior and discipline problems for the entire nine months. Your kids have spring fever and all of those classroom management routines and academic skills you have drilled into them seem to have vanished.
You are discouraged. You haven’t reached them all. You look out at the sea of faces and see the one student you felt like you could never connect with. You see the student who has hardened their heart towards God. You see the student who may fail and need summer school. You feel like you have failed.
You feel like it is taking everything in you to drag yourself across the finish line of the school year.
But God’s not done with you, yet.
When you are tired, you are extra vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. He would love to see you fizzle out at the end of the year – just focusing on enduring the final days instead of thriving.He would love to see you stop leaning on the love and power of God that has been sustaining you all year long.
Don’t let him.
I can guarantee that you can’t finish this year well in your own strength, but you don’t have to. Finish this year strong, relying on God’s strength. In all of the busyness and exhaustion, cling so closely to your God. Spend a little extra time in prayer and His Word. Keep your gaze firmly fixed on Him and all that He has done this year.
Instead of focusing on how far your students still have to go, take a moment to realize how far they have come.
Instead of focusing on how you have failed this year, take a moment to see the moments of God’s grace in your classroom. You weren’t a perfect teacher – there’s no such thing. You probably did fail in some areas this year (in fact, I can guarantee it!), but remember that God delights in using broken things to accomplish His purposes. God chose you to be the teacher for your class this year – He didn’t make a mistake. You were where you were exactly when you were supposed to be there. He wanted to use you to teach them…and He wanted to use them to teach you. Look for the moments of His grace and spend time thanking Him for them instead of wallowing in where you feel that you failed.
In the stressful and overwhelming days yet to come, don’t forget your students. Don’t get so wrapped up in rushing through curriculum and packing things up that you fail to really enjoy your last few days with them. Stop running around for a minute and just observe them. Relish the joy on their faces as they tell you a story. Delight in the smiles and laughter they share with their friends. Look back at their pictures from the beginning of the year and see how much they have grown up. Have times where you put aside your to-do list and just love your kiddos for these final days. Use these days to direct their eyes towards God and all He has accomplished this year.
Yes, you are tired. You feel like you are completely done.
But God’s not done.
He is still at work in you and your students.
Lean on His everlasting arms and finish the race strong.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Surely God is good!
A fellow worn-out, run-down, absolutely exhuasted teacher