2011-07-19 - The Exigeant Professor
Teachers God Has Sent Me through the Years ~ Part 2
Exigeant - challenging, demanding
This week's truth comes via a literal teacher. As a French honors graduate, I was used to earning all As in my language classes in college, and I was very disappointed to receive a B in one French course, albeit not as disappointed as some of the angry students who would have been thankful for a B or even a C! Our challenging professor's response to our groaning? He said something that I didn't want to hear at the time, but that I have never forgotten: We learn more from our failures than our successes. Now granted, many people wouldn't consider a B to be a failure, but to me, it was unworthy of my hard work and the language gifts from God.
But as it turned out, the professor was right, for it was quite humbling. I was the Chrissie Evert Lloyd of French, at the top of my game, and I probably needed to be taken down a notch. Though I had already spent some of my spare time tutoring other students whose gifts lay in areas other than languages, I am sure that it gave me more empathy for those who normally earn lower grades. And while grades do affect employment, which can set into effect a domino scenario that affects one's entire life, there are of course more devastating failures that God can and will use - if we participate - for the good of others and ourselves, as well as His glory.
Sometimes people facing failures, be it bankruptcy, divorce, a crime they have committed, or whatever, feel that things are hopeless. Sometimes people even grab the option that really belongs only to God, the taking of a life. But even though it sounds like a cliche there is always hope, and we really do have much to learn from our failures.I don't have the time or space for an exhaustive list of Christians who have learned from failures, and become better Christ-followers because of them, ending up with more fulfilled lives afterward, as well. But a few that come to mind would include the Apostle Thomas, who has become so well-known for his failure doubting His Lord that a doubting Thomas has become a well-known phrase for someone who must see it to believe it or someone weak in faith. Yet Thomas went on to become a leader of the church. He was a stronger Christian after the incident. A pastor I know who went through a painful divorce now is a strong supporter of others who are dealing with that issue, and those who have attended his divorce healing services have told me how meaningful and helpful they have been. (Side note: He and his ex-wife also have become lifelong friends, and she recently nursed him through a serious illness.) People who are genuinely repentant about the crimes they have committed sometimes work with youth, to try to keep them on the straight and narrow, to help inculcate them with Biblical values and respect for other people's rights, in order to help keep them away from a life of crime. I could go on and on, but you get the point.
What has been your failure(s)? Whatever it is, I guarantee that God can use it, a la Romans 8:28, for He truly can use all things for good.