Being Faithful

Being Faithful

Thursday, 13 November 2014  | Sue - MS Coordinator
Year 12 exams are nearly over and I suspect many students will give an enormous sigh of relief. During many years as a Middle School teacher I have watched students approach their studies in a variety of ways and I often wonder how best to prepare them for their final years of high school.

For much of my teaching, I took the approach of encouraging students to do their best; but a couple of years ago I was challenged to handle this differently. While undertaking a unit for my Masters, my lecturer mentioned that students with perfectionistic tendencies are frequently disheartened by the call to do their best. No matter how well these students have prepared and how hard they have worked they will always be aware of what more could have been done. They will never feel like they have given their best. When I asked my lecturer what wording he would use with students he replied that he encouraged his students to be faithful to their schooling. The more I have pondered this, the more I find this way of thinking helpful, for a number of reasons.

Education, while a wonderful privilege, is not the only facet of life that is important and to place undue priority on educational success is not healthy. Living a life of balance is essential. We are intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual beings and to deny any of these aspects has potentially negative consequences. Ensuring that we remain faithful to all of these areas simultaneously requires a juggling act that seems almost impossible to grasp.

Life tends to throw curve balls at the most inconvenient of times. I remember my mother being so ill during my Year 12 year that she required multiple stays in hospital and surgeries. While attempting to regularly visit her in hospital and help out around the house, I struggled to keep on top of my school workload. Needless to say my circumstances prevented me from doing as well as I could have. My Year 12 results were somewhat disappointing and I clearly remember feeling that I had let myself down. Much of my disappointment was based on the fact that I hadn’t done my best. Looking back I can see that even though my results were not what I would have liked, I had been faithful. I had successfully balanced all the demands that were on me at that time.

I am reminded of the parable in Matthew 25 about the man who entrusted his wealth to his servants while he travelled. He distributed various amounts of money to three of them to invest as they saw fit during his absence. Two of the servants doubled their master’s money and were rewarded with praise for being ‘good and faithful’ servants. They were also entrusted with even greater responsibility in the future. They had both earned different amounts of money but it was in proportion to what they had been given. The servant who buried his master’s money rather than investing was rebuked and thrown out of the household. This parable can serve both as an encouragement and as a warning.

So what does it mean to be ‘faithful students’? God does not expect us to work miracles with what we have; miracles are His business. The student who finds solving complex mathematical equations fairly easy may not be so capable of creating works of art worthy of pride of place in the National Gallery. Expecting them to do so would be unreasonable. Each student should be faithful with the gifts God has entrusted to them and work hard to excel in those specific fields while not denying the other facets of their being. This is the challenge I would love all our students to embrace.

To the Year 12 students who are finishing this stage of their education, I pray you have been faithful with the talents and gifts God has given you. I say well done, not for your score, but for your commitment and attitude. Regardless of the grades you have earned, God will bless your diligence. Others may not be aware of the struggles and challenges you have encountered this year. Do not worry about what your ATAR means for your future. God has a miraculous way of ensuring we end up where we are meant to be regardless of the obstacles we have faced along the way. I could tell you the story about how I ended up studying Teaching at university but that’s a whole other editorial…!

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