1 Corinthians 1:26 says that not many mighty are called. The wise and the noble aren’t either. God doesn’t look down at the earth searching for the people who already have the most talent, the greatest skill, or the keenest gut instincts to do great exploits for His kingdom. He looks for those whom He can train and equip to His liking. I have always understood that on an intellectual level, but this week I saw the whole thing in a microcosm in my classroom. It’s not just about what we bring to the table that matters. It’s about what we allow God to bring to us.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.”1 Corinthians 1:26
The Situation in My Class
I’m a senior-level English teacher by day. God called me to it, and I love it. I take my job seriously and give everything I’ve got to serve the Lord (and my students) with enthusiasm. Inevitably, each year my passion is received by teenagers in one of three ways. Of course, I don’t really know which ones are thinking what until the end. See, for eight and a half months, most of my students appear pleasantly indifferent to my efforts.
But during the last couple of weeks, I assign two things that make it clear. One is for the kids to hand-write two letters of appreciation for Teacher Appreciation Week that I will deliver to whomever they choose. The other is a reflection assignment on a variety of topics. That one is a letter addressed to me with four specific paragraphs. One of the paragraphs asks them to express their thoughts about my class and my teaching style. That’s when I “see” underneath their respectful, compliant exterior to what is really going on inside.
A few are oblivious.
Some students neither recognize me as a human being nor comment on anything beyond the strictest parameters of assignments, deadlines, and subject matter. If there was a warm body at the front of the room all year, you wouldn’t know it from their letters.
Some are haughty.
There are also those who see my efforts to help them as heavy-handed and overbearing. A few accuse me of treating them like children instead of the adults that they are and chastise me for my policies and attention to them. Why ask them to put their phones away? Why require them to keep track of restroom passes? What does it matter if they choose to do the assignment in class or when they feel like it later?
Others are grateful.
These are the ones who see my efforts, attention, and desire to help them to do well. They thank me for caring about them as people and pushing them to be their best. A few say that they couldn’t have done so well without me, and a very few even tell me the words “I love you” in those sweet appreciation letters before they leave childish things and enter into adulthood.
A Lesson for the Teacher
Every year when I get those letters, I’m surprised again. Some teens are loud, and some are silent all throughout the year. But in these letters, I hear their hearts clearly, and it makes me think of 1 Corinthians 1:26. Students who have been on top of everything, the easiest of students with the highest grades and the most benign smiles, are often indifferent or rude to me when it all comes out. It’s the ones who have, at times, given me trouble who express the greatest appreciation. The ones I have chased, cajoled, encouraged, and threatened. The ones who mean well but don’t quite have the skills without tutoring and another try. They are the ones who come through with the kindest, most profound words of gratitude at the end.
One thing I have learned from my 18 years as a high school teacher is that teenagers are people. The same situations I see in my classroom with students also happen with teachers in faculty meetings and summer training sessions. People are people. The ones who are smart, strong, and “good” have the least need for help and the smallest amount of patience for anyone who might want to try to assist them.
Not Many Mighty Are Called
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are. That no flesh should glory in his presence.”1 Corinthians 1: 27-29
This whole situation has really made me think about my own calling. So many times, I get frustrated with myself for my lack of wisdom, weakness, and inability to be “good” on the first try. These things don’t come naturally. I have to seek wisdom in prayer and beg for God’s strength. I must take my thoughts captive, redirecting negativity to positivity, selfishness to compassion, and fleshly reactions to spiritual responses. I’m keenly aware that God is my only hope to be anything or do anything good in this world, much less obtain the world hereafter. When the Lord comes by to offer help, I’m so very grateful. If He has a different way for me to do it, I know that His way is best. And if anything in my life is wise, mighty, or noble, the glory belongs to God alone.
When God Looks at the World
“…for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7b
Often people can’t tell what is really going on with other people, but God always sees the thoughts and intents of the heart. It seems to me that when God looks down into the world, He is looking for those who need Him. Some people are indifferent; they neither think of Him nor see Him as a Person. Some are angry with His “requirements” and offended when He tries to help (by the Bible’s instructions). But for those who recognize their own insufficiency, the Lord can take what little they have and make them into something that looks a lot more like Hm. Not many mighty are called, but the ones who ARE called can do great and mighty things by His grace for His glory.
Enjoy timely articles? Try 4 Distractions For Christians We Must Beware. Or, try 4 Ways to Avoid Spiritual Deception. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email inbox. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.