Ambassadors. I was thinking about this word the other day, and talked about it with Michael for a while. An ambassador is a person who goes somewhere in place of another person. An ambassador represents someone and does that person’s work as if that person was actually there. Being an ambassador is kind of a big deal. It involves trust, authority, honesty, sincerity. It means being a true representative of someone or something.
As I was thinking about these things, I went back to the verses that I wrote for you above, from 2 Corinthians. Paul calls us ambassadors of Christ, a way for God to make his appeal to the people of the world, USING US. We are called to represent Christ to those around us. What a huge responsibility!
I’ve been mulling over this for about a week now, just thinking about what this single idea means for me, for my life, for my role as a teacher, a wife, a friend. How do I represent Christ to those around me? Do I represent Christ differently to those who are Christians than to those who aren’t?
One of my students is perpetually late to class. I don’t know why. He can’t make it to an 8:00 class any earlier than 8:15. There are other students like him, and it drives me crazy. I think, “Why can’t you people get here 15 minutes earlier? Is it really that difficult?”
I’ve had students fall asleep in class before. Yes, grammar is just that boring. There was actually one who recently fell asleep during the last class of the day (it’s kind of like a study hall for students who have failed math/science/English class). He woke up when his pen dropped from his hand (which was also supporting his head) and hit his book with a soft “thud”. It was kind of funny, really. These things don’t happen every day or anything, but sometimes it makes me wonder if the student is just so lazy that they can’t stay awake, or if there’s something else going on.
I found out last week that several of my 12th grade students have tutors who come on weekends. These students don’t ever get a break from school. EVER. They learn math and science for 6 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays, then come to school on Monday looking completely exhausted.
Another student came up to me right after school on Friday and said, “Wish me luck! I’m taking the CU-TEP test this weekend!” I had no idea. There are tons of tests around here that are similar to the TOEFL and SAT. Different universities require different ones, so many students end up taking 4-6 standardized tests so they can apply to the universities they want to get into. These tests take a lot of studying, and I think my students do this studying in addition to what they do for school and their weekend tutoring times.
Is it any wonder that my students look completely exhausted so often?
Maybe being an ambassador for Christ doesn’t mean being a tough teacher all the time. Maybe it doesn’t mean I have to push them to their limits each week. Maybe being Christ to my students means pausing to watch and listen to them. Maybe instead of assigning that extra assignment on Friday (“They’ve got two extra days to finish it”) I should give them a break every once in a while. I generally don’t think of myself as a horribly mean teacher, and I don’t think I push the students beyond what they can do…but there is something to be said for compassion. In these situations and more, what can I do to better represent Christ?
Just some thoughts and reflections from a teacher’s perspective. Our lives here focus every day on our students, the work that we do for them and what we want to require them to do. Your life probably focuses on something different: what does it mean to be an ambassador of Christ to your children? To your parents? To that obnoxious person that you work with (the one no one likes)? To the cashier at the grocery store?
Think about it. Be an ambassador.