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Posts Tagged ‘#change’

“If you want to change the behavior of a student, you must first convince them, real or perceived, that you like them”

Those were the best words of advice I ever received as an educational assistant … and I have found them to be true!

No amount of negative reinforcement, tokens, nagging, consistent messaging, interruptions, trips to the principal, calls home, withdrawal of personal attention, privileges, or possessions has had a more substantive beneficial effect in working with students than this intentional expression of unconditional appreciation for them.

Effective? … yes!
Guaranteed desired results? … no …

Since I am human, since the students are human … well, we have this ‘benefit’ of free will and we just don’t always choose to say, and do, and think rightly. So, guaranteed positive results … nope, but it’s pretty effective.

The other thing is that the advice needs an edit, because liking people is hard. Sometimes liking is even humanly impossible. So, I prefer the quote to be edited by substituting ‘like’ for ‘love’.

“If you want to change the behavior of a student, you must first convince them, real or perceived, that you love them”

Some might say, well if liking is hard, loving would be even difficult … true … and not.

When I say you need to convince someone that you love them, I don’t mean with my or our capacity to love, because that is just not enough. I mean with the love that is only present because the Spirit of God is within me.

Last week I was reading a sermon of Martin Luther King Jr., which he preached in 1957, at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, titled, Loving Your Enemies. In it he said something about this act of loving that got my attention :

Agape (love) is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of humans. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love humans, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them.

MLK Jr.

To love someone … a student, a child, a parent, a sibling, a wife, a husband, a neighbor … with the unconditional love of God is to open the door to the amazing, redemptive work of God in that relationship. It is to prepare the way for changes, for miracles.

Sometimes the miracles happen in the one to whom I am making effort to offering the love of God, but always, always the changes, the miracles happen in me. I cannot offer hate, I cannot think ill of, I cannot be disinterested in someone who I am loving through the spirit of God.

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Time(s) Change

This week the Pacific Northwest is living in future … waking an hour earlier than our inner, habitual clocks are accustomed. By this point in week one of Daylight Savings Time our excitement for the longer, lighter evenings has past, as has our vitality.

This annual ritual, and the exhaustion that follows it, reminds me of other times when we move forward into the future, with excitement, then the reality of change gets us down.

I remember one of our kids, so excitedly counting down until they could finally start kindergarten. The day they had waited for finally arrived and they couldn’t wait … until it was time to step into the class without mom or dad. An inner struggle occurred as they looked forward, into the kindergarten experience they had dreamed of, yet looking into the eyes of the pair whose presence brought security. Eventually they stepped over the threshold, with not even a glance back.

I remember the excitement of moving … until I had packed a hundred boxes, and the house barely even looked like I had started. It didn’t seem worth it! After the packing, then the many days of unpacking in the new house, after the boxes were finally out of our new home … the pains of the process to get moved faded as we nested into our new home.

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
    it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Habakkuk 2:3

Soon, the uncertainty and fatigue of change will pass, and we will be sitting on our decks, at the lake, on a boat, at the beach staring off at the sunset, marvelling at how light it still is at such a late hour … vitality not only returned, but reborn.

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