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Beyond the Best of Intentions

Editor’s Note: Alongside our recent podcast conversation with Cindy Rollins and Chris Perrin, this blog post is part of a series of contemplation about how to kick the school year off well.

This summer I read Think by John Piper, with the desire of understanding what God asks of us in our thinking. The book has led me to ponder Mathew 7:7-11, and what it means for teaching and the classroom.

In Matthew 7 it says:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him ca stone?10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

The blessing is not only being able to ask questions, but being encouraged to ask questions of our God! We are asked to think, wonder and learn by seeking. In my classroom, I want questions then to be my roots and my fulcrum. To do this I need to create an environment that cultivates questions.

The second part of Matthew 7 addresses my responsibility modeled by God, which is to not only answer questions that my students ask, but to provide them with what they need. When we ask something of God, he has promised to give, find and open the answer to us. He has promised to give us good things, to provide us with what we are looking for and to open the door of knowledge to us.

In more careful view of this though, verse eleven makes it clear that God will give us good things, but not necessarily what we asked for. The guarantee is good will come from our asking and seeking God. In the classroom, I need to also be giving my students what is good, which may or may not be what they are asking for. A child may ask for a diet of candy, but a loving parent of course would not give them such a diet, because the reality is it would not be good, even though the child thinks it’s good. Guiding them to see what is truly good is my end.

My concern for myself is this: what if, in my teaching, I am actually giving my students a stone, when their need is bread? What if I am giving them a snake rather than that which will nourish them? I know that even with the best of intentions, I may not give them what they truly need unless I keep my foundation and the anchor of my instruction in Christ. If I give them knowledge without drawing them in to the delights of the creator, I am giving them a stone.

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