Why You Should Ask Children For Advice

Throughout my teaching career, I found that the best advice came from my students.  In the early years, I regularly surveyed my students asking, “What should I keep on doing?  What should I stop doing?  What should I add that is new?”  Students let me know that it was hard to see when I wrote with red or green marker on the board; that black and blue were clearer.  They told me they liked knowing each day’s schedule at the beginning of class.  They told me they would like to spend more time studying biology outside.  Whenever possible I implemented their advice.

When we moved to a new place, we would first look for a school for our sons.  Then I would apply for a job at that school, since I wanted to have the same hours and vacation schedule as our boys.  Each time, God provided a job:  in England I taught grade six biology, in the Netherlands I taught grade seven biology, in Singapore I taught grade eight general science.

But then Brad was notified on June first of a surprise transfer back to the Netherlands.  I telephoned to see if my former school had a job available for me.  A few days later, they said, “We have a high school grade nine and eleven chemistry position available.  We think you can do it.  Do you think you can?”  I took a risk and answered, “Yes.”  Then I spent two hours most days that summer studying chemistry, re-activating my memory of content I had not glanced at since university days.

I loved teaching chemistry:  it’s orderly systems, interesting mathematics, and practical applications.  Laboratory work was especially engaging.  But sometimes when I was teaching difficult concepts, I confused students.  I am so thankful for one student, who would raise her hand the instant she didn’t understand.  She was so aware of the progress of her own learning, that she could pinpoint exactly when she got lost.  Her questions taught me to slow down; to check for comprehension more frequently; and to treat my plans more flexibly.

Long ago, there was a Syrian warrior named Naaman, who had a skin disease.  His wife’s maid, a young Israeli girl, who had been captured, said, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria!  He would cure him.”  Naaman followed her advice and not only was his skin restored, “clean like that of a young boy,” but also he chose to worship only the prophet’s God even after he returned to Syria.

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God sometimes sends children to teach us.

Application:  Dear friend, being teachable is more important than being right.  God sometimes sends children, students, employees, coworkers or spouses to teach us.  Weary friend, pridefully defending the way we do things, and ignoring advice, can make us weary.  Good advice is a gift that can help us find a better way.  I need to re-learn this.

Reflection: 

How might asking for advice help you to fulfill your purpose?  Who might you ask for advice?

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Recommended Reading: 

Humility: True Greatness by C. J. Mahaney

The Secret to Working Beyond Your Capabilities

My paternal grandfather, whom we called Opa, came to the United States from Germany as a young adult and initially worked with his brothers as a house painter.  One day he fell from a ladder and broke a bone in his hand, the metacarpal I.  Although it healed improperly, he could still use his thumb.  Since his hand never regained full strength, Opa decided to change professions.  He applied to dental school in Baltimore, and moved his wife and babies there.  When he attended the first day of class, the administrators said, “Why are you here?  We didn’t accept you.”  Opa said, “I’ve quit my job; I’ve moved my family here; you have to accept me.”  After some deliberation, the administrators decided to admit him on probation.  Through persistent prayer and strong, courageous effort, Opa found and fulfilled his calling.

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Not through a flash of light, but through persistent prayer and strong, courageous effort, Opa found and fulfilled his calling.

By mixing dental care with conversation and good counsel, he built life-long relationships with his patients, their children and grandchildren.  Because many patients were initially afraid of dental visits, Opa bought a harmonica neck holder, so he could play soothing music while working on their teeth.  Opa flourished throughout his career, practicing dentistry into his eighties.

Long ago, when Joshua was thrust into leadership by the death of Moses, God repeatedly encouraged him to “be strong and courageous.”  Although initially fearful and prone to mistakes, Joshua grew into an inspirational and effective leader, who always gave credit to the God for his success.

Application:  Dear friend, are you in a season of fear or a season of flourishing?  I think the hardest part of seasons of fear, might be uncertainty about whether we should persist or explore other options.  I am in a season of uncertainty as I begin to devote significant time and energy to writing.  May God give us the wisdom we need to know the way that will lead toward flourishing.

Reflection:

What profession or role have you felt called to fulfill?  What challenges have you faced in living out that calling?  How have you overcome them?

Recommended Reading:

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller