This past Thursday I returned to work. Arriving early and walking down the empty hallways, it’s always an eerie feeling to think how soon they will be filled with hordes of teenagers. I thought about all of the things I needed to prepare before I was ready, and I knew I was further away than I had hoped. In the days that have followed, I have been asked repeatedly, “Are you ready for the school year?” I’ve answered with a vague, non-committal “Yes and no.” I usually go on to explain that I’m excited to be back, but not nearly prepared enough to begin. I need to get a lot more done before those hordes of teenagers populate the hallways.
But as I sit here thinking about the school year, I realize that my greatest regret last year was not a lack of preparation, but a lack of prayer. I prayed for my students, but not as often or as specific as I would have liked. As I prepare in these final couple days before students return for the first day of class, I want to be better prepared this year to be a praying professor. When I’m overwhelmed by the workload, I want my first instinct to be prayer. When a student is disinterested, disrespectful, or discouraged, I want my first instinct to be prayer. When I’m impatient and frustrated, I want my first instinct to be prayer. When I’m excited and joyful, when I see students engaged and thriving, or when I see a community of learning and living for the glory of God, I want my first instinct to be prayer.
I’ll never read all the books I want to read. I’ll never watch all the teaching videos or go to all the seminars to improve as a teacher that I want. I’ll never quite have my lesson plans at a point that I’m satisfied. But I know without a doubt that the biggest impact I can make as a teacher begins not in books but in A BOOK, begins not in a classroom but on my knees, and begins not with my mind but with my heart. Love God, love my family, love my students. Pray without ceasing. This is my professional development goal for 2017, and I hope my friends and colleagues read this and make sure throughout this year that my priority is prayer.