“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33, NIV
Seven years ago, I was in the middle of my 12th year of education as a full-time math and chemistry teacher, a coach of two varsity sports, the activities director, and—when needed—a bus driver, too. The problem was, I was never home. My kids were growing up without me around and I didn’t even realize it.
What did it take for me to figure it out? Just after lunch on a crisp February day, I told my school resource officer that my chest was feeling funny, and he did not like what I was describing. I reluctantly got into his squad car, and we were off to the ER sixteen miles away.
It turns out you cannot continue to run and run and run. Eventually, your body says it’s had enough. Thankfully after many tests, I was diagnosed with a stress-induced anxiety attack—what the doctors called a “warning” that things needed to change.
You would be surprised how much time you have to think and, more importantly, to pray as you stare at ER lights anxiously waiting for test results. I’m embarrassed to say that it took a trip to the emergency room for me to figure out that my priorities were out of whack. I couldn’t tell you exactly what order my priorities were in between school, coaching, administrative duties, family, and God. But I can tell you that they weren’t in the right order.
Over the next few months, an opportunity opened for me to scale back on my responsibilities in a new role at a nearby school district. It was the change my body and my family needed. And it allowed me to realign my priorities back to serving God first, my family second, and my students/athletes third. I know that by seeking His Kingdom first, I am free to simply abide in our Savior’s love and fully trust that He is working the rest out for me.
Lord, please train our eyes as educators to seek Your Kingdom above all else. Help us not to be swept away in a flood of earthly responsibilities, even in our well-meaning attempts to serve others. Give us hearts that recognize when to say yes and when to say no. Prune our lives until all that shines brightly is You, Your Kingdom, and Your Righteousness. It is in Jesus’ name we ask for this daily and weekly discernment. Amen.
Copyright Tom Milbrandt.
Tom is a member and a high school math teacher from North Dakota.