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Heart Matters

Unfortunately, the nicks of life can bleed a long time. And the scars are forever. So consider your next lesson.

Preparing to teach is like shaving your head. It has to be done very carefully.

This past week I became a card-carrying member of The Bald and Beautiful. I not only let down my hair, I shaved it off. My noggin is now as smooth as silk.

Each morning in the shower, I carefully soak and soap my cranium for several minutes, preparing it for the daily blade. As my skin softens beneath the heat and soap suds, I cautiously begin my first pass with the razor. My properly placed mirror serves as a guide to ensure no area is missed. I'd look quite goofy with a partly shaved head.

This extra touch removes the final flints of follicles. When my shower is complete, I reward my skin with a final buffing of skin softener and then face the mirror with a bald confidence.

Yesterday, though, in my hurry to get to work, I failed to prepare properly. I didn't soften the skin long enough. I used an old blade. I shaved faster and more recklessly.

Ouch! Oooh! Oops.

My razor nicked a fold of skin. The blood oozed. The shower temporarily washed away the painful reality. But in a few moments, I faced the mirror and a bloody truth. My head was marked with small rivers and ponds of red. I quickly tore tissues to blot the blood.

As I got dressed with a half pound of tissues stuck to my head, I looked like the poster boy for a Red Cross blood drive. One particular nick bled all day. My students were kind, but keen. A few stared with wry smiles. Some tried to ignore my red-marked cranium. Others were more verbal. "You and your razor had fun this morning, eh?" "I think you missed a spot." "You look good in red, Professor Chromey."

Fortunately, by day's end the torture was over and the healing of my head had begun. My head was marked with tiny scabs. And it was then that I realized a truth.

If you don't prepare, you repair.

Preparing to teach is like shaving your head. And if you don't do it right, it's a bloody mess. And if you don't do it right, you look a bit goofy. And if you don't do it right, people will notice and respond (mostly negatively). And if you don't do it right, you get a headache.

Proper preparation in teaching is essential to every other aspect in the teaching-learning experience. Creativity is nicked when we don't prepare, and boredom is the bloody result. The flow of the lesson is cut when we don't prepare, and discipline problems surface. Preparation ensures a smooth sweep of study in God's Word (which is sharper than any two-edged sword!).

Sometimes we think we're fine because the waters of children's enthusiasm, our personal agenda, and class attendance wash away the bloody evidence. We think we're successful until our instruction is revealed in the mirror of life. John cheats on a test (despite your lesson on honesty the week before). Carlos drops quietly from class and is never seen again. Kristin converts to a cult. Lori graduates to middle school and no longer comes to church.

And you wonder what happened. What went wrong?

If you don't prepare, you repair.

Unfortunately, the nicks of life can bleed a long time. And the scars are forever. So consider your next lesson. Are you thinking beyond the hour it's taught? If this were the last lesson you ever delivered, would it be sufficient? Would it hit the mark? Would your teaching change your learners' lives? Would God use it to cause a change of heart?

Are you teaching like there's no tomorrow? Do you teach like the future depends on it? Those are good questions. And I'd love to pen more insight, but I can't.

It's time to shave -- again.

Rick Chromey is a Christian education professor at St. Louis Christian College in Florissant, Missouri.


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