A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34
During my first year of leading a middle school with over 800 students, I wanted to find ways to connect individually with students outside of the office and celebrate success in the classroom. As a school, we started a positive phone call home system in which teachers would recommend students and then I would call them to the office to make the call. In theory, an amazing idea. In practice, we had some hiccups.
One day, I called a particular student down to my office. Upon arrival, I said her name incorrectly. She promptly and emotionally let me know that I had pronounced her name wrong and left my office feeling hurt—and left me feeling disappointed in myself. My ideas and intentions were loving and kind. However, I realized I had a lot to learn.
As an educator, you may have had similar experiences. You wanted to help others but ended up hurting them instead. Your intentions were honorable, but your actions hurt another. Loving others isn’t easy, and sometimes we make mistakes while on the path of wanting others to see His light in the work we do in our classrooms and schools. But I have learned that He loves us, even though we are imperfect. And through His love and grace, we have opportunities to seek forgiveness and show others love through our thoughtful apologies.
A few days later, I had a chance to apologize to that student, and her reaction hurt my heart. She shared with me that many adults in our district had mispronounced her name, but few had apologized for it. Through our conversation, I learned more about what that name represented to her and her family. By seeking forgiveness, I was able to establish a deeper relationship with her that helped both of us find success in middle school and well into the start of her senior year.
So, as you embark on another year of letting others see His light through your actions and interactions, remember that others can learn just as much from our mistakes as they can from our successes.