I Fell Into the Teacher Trap

The Teacher Trap

I ignored the warnings for months. The first was a quiet, almost imperceptible nudge. Then came stronger recognition. Finally, last fall, when asked for a prayer request, my answer reflected a growing awareness. But still, I pushed those warnings aside.

For those who teach or preach week in and week out, you’re probably familiar with this trap. Even if you don’t bear the title teacher, you are one. You teach by example. You teach by conversation. You teach your children. You teach your employees or coworkers.

The trap is real for all of us.

The teacher trap is the belief that the lessons and illustrations you identify as you study the Bible are for the benefit of others in your life.

And, boy, did I ever fall for it.

Preparation to teach a large women’s Bible study every week requires certain routines. One of my regular practices involves identifying principles and illustrations related to the Bible passage I’m teaching that week. I’m always on the lookout for something in my own life or in the lives of others to reinforce the lesson.

Problem is, that became my sole focus.

  • Clear principle on the need to live dependent on the Holy Spirit? Filed.
  • Good illustration on the need to forgive? Noted.
  • Concise principle describing the effect of serving others? Included.
  • Effective illustration of the importance of a vibrant prayer life? Got it.

I began to sense the problem last fall when a friend asked how she could pray for me. “Pray that I apply what I’m studying before I try to teach it,” I told her. I hadn’t planned on saying that. The words slipped out before I had time to think. I realize now it was the Holy Spirit trying to get my attention.

The culmination came this past December, when I sought my new “one word” for 2017. If you’re not familiar with the practice of one word for the new year, the concept is intended to replace new year’s resolutions. In place of resolutions that often fail to survive through February, we prayerfully select one word to influence the way we live for the year.

My word in 2015 was release. In 2016, it was joy. In December of 2016, the Lord gave me the word hope for this new year. Despite multiple confirmations, I questioned the selection. I didn’t see immediate application.

That’s when I fell into the trap. After puzzling about it for a week or so, I concluded this was to be my word in 2017 to encourage others. To extend hope for those discouraged by their circumstances. To convey hope to those vulnerable to despair.

The teacher trap.

Just a few days into January, I learned the reason for my word. My husband was diagnosed with cancer. During the past month we clung to hope as we navigated hospitalization, surgeries, tests, and more tests. We cling to hope today as we evaluate treatment protocols and weigh options. And we will cling to hope in the coming months as we do our part and trust the Lord for whatever results He chooses to allow.

God graciously prepared me for the new year with just the right word.

As I write this, I’m again reminded of my prayer request last fall. “Pray that I apply what I’m studying before I try to teach it.” Today, even more than then, it is my heart cry…first as a child of God and then as a teacher.

May it be the heart cry of every one of us who study and teach God’s Word.

What is your experience with the teacher trap?

My Personal Hope for 2017

A new year, a new word.

In 2015, my “one word” for the year was release—a word I didn’t like, but did need. These posts explain my choice and my experience in applying my one word.

The following year, my word was joy…a word that seemed to be the opposite of release, yet I quickly learned it complemented and built on the lessons of the previous year. You can check out the reason for my choice as well as my success and failure in applying it.

You might imagine I was eager to learn my word for 2017. Or after reading my previous successes and failures, perhaps not so eager. My one word for 2017 came to me in early December. Once again, it was not a word on my short list of considerations. But hope kept coming to mind. And it confused me.

I could see reasons for the words release and joy, as I blogged earlier. But would I really need to focus on hope as a daily activity? Hmmm, since I teach and write, perhaps I was to focus on hope as a way to encourage others. To be a vessel of hope to those who may be struggling under waves of despair.

I didn’t have to wait long to learn why hope is not only my word for 2017, it’s one my husband is focusing on, as well.

On January 4, Russ entered the hospital with sharp abdominal pain. He thought it might be kidney stones. Instead, tests confirmed the presence of a pancreatic tumor.

While we waited in the ER for the admission paperwork to be completed, a nurse placed a glass stone in my hand. “Here,” he said. “Hold on to this.” I looked down to see the word hope etched across the glass. Hope

Within 2 days, Russ had 2 surgeries. One to stop internal bleeding and the other to remove a cancerous tumor, his spleen, and parts of his pancreas and stomach.

If ever a diagnosis calls for hope, it’s cancer. These past several weeks have been jam-packed with medical tests and doctor appointments as he recovers from the surgery and makes decisions regarding further treatment. Discussions about radiation and chemotherapy are now a normal part of our conversations.

Through it all, we trust our Savior and cling to Him.

Yes, hope is precisely what I need this year. And, although I didn’t realize it then, the Lord began preparing me for 2017 in December 2016.

What is your “one word” for 2017?

The People of Christmas: Those Who Trust

Letters Spelling Trust As Symbol for Faith And BeliefI trust the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

I trust gravity will keep my feet anchored to the floor when I get out of bed.

I trust the light will turn on when I flip the electric switch.

There is a slight chance that one or all of those things may not happen. But given my past experience, the probability is that they will occur…just as I trust they will.

But is it trust on my part, or is it simply a reliance on past experience?

What if I had never experienced a sunrise? Or if I had never known the effects of gravity? Or if I didn’t know what electricity was? Then it really would be trust!

With that in mind, consider the account of the first Christmas from the perspective of the participants.

Mary was asked to trust that God would do the impossible: cause her to become pregnant by His Spirit.
Joseph was asked to trust that God would do the impossible: cause his fiancée to be pregnant while still a faithful virgin.
Mary’s parents were asked to trust that God would do the impossible: send His angel to communicate with their daughter—not just a female, which would have been unthinkable as it is, but barely a child herself.

Each of these people were asked to trust God in unusual circumstances without any direct experience to draw on.

A virgin birth? Never happened before.

Angels speaking to women? Unthinkable. It rarely even happened to men.

A woman pregnant outside of marriage? Counter-cultural at best and a violation of the Mosaic Law which required a death sentence (Deut. 22:20-21).

And yet, each of these people did trust God. Their hope rested on the character and ways of God, as He had revealed Himself in His Word. They expressed their faith and trust in the Lord despite situations that screamed,

Possible And Impossible Keys Show Optimism And Positivity“Run!”

“Don’t believe him!”

“Don’t believe her!”

“This is impossible!”

The essence of their trust and hope depended on having a high view of God. It depended on being absolutely convinced that nothing is impossible for El Elyon, the Most High God. Nothing is out of the control of the Sovereign Lord who never stopped being Lord of His creation.

What impossible situation are you facing today? Are you finding it difficult to trust the Lord? The higher your view of God—the bigger God is in your sight—the easier it will be to trust Him, regardless of how impossible your circumstances appear.

The angel told Mary, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, ESV). Jesus said, “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, ESV).

Do we truly believe this? The key to maintaining hope and trust this Christmas season and throughout the year, regardless of what comes, is to maintain a high view of God—the God for whom nothing is impossible.

Mary and Joseph trusted El Elyon. Will you and I do the same?

Hope…or Despair?

In 1997, Entertainment Weekly called him the funniest man alive. But this week, the funniest man alive was so wrought with despair that he committed suicide.

Sixty-three years young, Robin Williams ended his battle with severe depression with finality. He could see nothing beyond the barrier of his mental and emotional anguish.

While the Internet is replete with messages of shock and grief, I wonder how many people really knew him. Knew the dark demons that held him captive. The insecurity that caused him to turn to drugs and alcohol, complete twenty years of sobriety, then turn again to alcohol. The worry that he might fall prey to those addictions yet again.

Perhaps he understood the reality of the line in Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s poem, “The Way Of The World,” “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.” Robin Williams made the world laugh, but he wept alone.MasksVulnerability doesn’t come naturally. But wearing masks does. We pretend everything is okay, despite the fears that paralyze, the questions that afflict, and the despair that tortures us.

It shouldn’t be this way, especially among Christians. Regardless of our individual histories, every believer has the assurance that the salvation found in Christ is the basis for hope.

  • Hope that no matter how unlovable we are, God still loves us and He proved it by sending His Son to die in our place.
  • Hope that what we deserve is not what we will receive.
  • Hope that no matter how good or bad this life is, eternity will be so much better.
  • Hope that the power to change is not found in our own ability, but in the Holy Spirit’s ability to change us.
  • Hope that no matter how many times we fail and fall, God offers forgiveness and cleansing, and a chance to begin again.

This world is filled with despair. But Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

If you have the joy of hope in Christ today, will you share it with someone else? You just might save their life.

If you are living in despair, will you share that with someone else, as well? You just might save your life.


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