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Subbing For Jesus
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At the moment, I'm sitting in Mr. Cramer's science classroom. The topic of the day is hurricanes, and while I'm no meteorologist, it is my job to do my best with the subject and to encourage those who are looking to me for help to do the same.

As a substitute teacher, I have the privilege of teaching a variety of subjects and being exposed to a variety of high school kids. Most days I feel that I'm simply the person filling up the space at the front of the classroom. Nothing more, nothing less. That's not a bad thing as far as jobs go. I mean, it pays the same either way, right? Still, it is on those rare (and often unexpected) occasions when I discover that I've actually made a positive impact on someone that the whole teaching thing becomes worthwhile.

For example, a few moments ago here in Mr. Cramer's class I was greeted with a smile by a young man who I threw out of class last time I subbed. Hmmm...how did I get that kind of salutation? Maybe it's because I had taken the time to explain to him on that day that even though he had to leave the class, I still understood that he was having some issues that were causing him stress. I also thanked him very much for his apology, creating a fresh opportunity for mutual respect. Wow, I'm looking at him right now and he's uncharacteristically working on his assignment! I mean, his pencil is actually moving from left to right on the page, and his book is open!

Situations like this cause me to realize that one should never underestimate the influence that is taking place while one thinks no one is looking. But wait! If that's true for positive influence, then it also must be true for negative influence too! Okay, now I'm not feeling so noble. What about the times when I didn't seize the moment to connect with a student? What about the incidents of bad behavior that I didn't take into consideration circumstances of home life or peer influences or whatever else caused them to act out? What about the good students who sit quietly and do their work, but don't receive any affirmation from me?


Influence. It can happen for good, and it can happen for bad. And it often happens when we don't realize it. It makes me think of our spiritual influence on the world. When I come into a classroom as a substitute teacher, I'm standing in the place of the teacher who is the actual leader of that group. It is my job to imitate that teacher's methods as closely as possible in order to keep the students on track and to help pull in those who may have fallen behind.

Likewise, Jesus is the Great Teacher. If I claim to believe in what He is teaching, it is my job to imitate his methods and help his other followers to do the same. I also need to help those who may have fallen away from him.
I am not a scientist, but I can learn about it and help others to learn it with me. I am not a theologian, but I can learn the Bible and help others to learn it with me.

The Great Teacher taught his students in person on this earth in times past. But when he left, he gave us the job of teaching in his physical absence. What a great opportunity to influence others. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can use our position to influence in positive ways, and pray for power to avoid being a negative influence.

Incidentally, the young man in my science class today just handed me his completed assignment and asked if he should hand it in early. Wow! A little kindness and understanding can go a long way. God help us all as we go through our daily activities subbing for Jesus.

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By Gwen Simmons. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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