Like a Unicorn at a Balloon Popping Party (or The Joy of Teaching)


ImageAs my 35th birthday approaches, I’m looking back through some old journal entries. In my mid-twenties I had one big aspiration for my life: to put my knowledge to good use by becoming a teacher/college professor. The problem was I had no clue how to teach, and learning and teaching are too very different things. I was so nervous up front. I was unclear and often spoke in academic language that went over people’s heads or I just bored them to death. But it was mostly just nerves and I needed to practice and find my voice. I think I began to find my preaching/teaching voice only about a year or so ago when I was forced to preach every week at MainStreet. The following journal entry goes way back to 2006 to describe one of my first successful moments as a teacher and the sense of joy and fulfillment I felt. Wow, what a journey!

My class has just left the church after another Monday night of exploring the history of the Jews….It was an exciting night, with a more confident Jeremy at the front, and a more engaged audience as a result. We are on more familiar ground, discussing the religious/political diversity within Judaism — the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc. — and their relationship to the Jesus movement.

I’m at home in these topics, and am experiencing a “teachers’ high” right now, feeling the unbridled joy that comes from doing what you love and beginning to succeed at it. Using my friend Peter’s image, right now I feel as free and unleashed as that dog sprinting down the beach shore toward a flock of geese. Or, using my friend Dan’s more “Dan-ish” picture: I feel like a unicorn at a balloon popping party. I, too, was made for this! 

What a pure gift it is to finally get a taste of this brand of SUCCESS. I’ve experienced so-called success at many points of my life in many various contexts, but this is a more meaningful kind. I won a spelling bee once, but I didn’t really care about spelling. I got A’s in high school, but didn’t enjoy the subjects. Tonight I am getting a small taste of “embraced success”, receiving the joy that comes from performing a service, filling a need, providing some expertise, putting hard-earned knowledge to some use, and actually loving it.

I envy my dad for this. He can design and build anything he wants and fix anything that’s broken. And he has made a great living doing just these things. He is blessed. Society needs people like my dad, to design wonderful things, build amazing structures and fix them when they break. Society needs intellectual engineers to explore the complexities of the human heart — our thoughts, emotions, desires and hopes — and spiritual doctors to repair broken hearts, and bring clarity to boggled minds.

“Where am I? Who am I? How did I come to be here? What is this thing called the world? How did I come into the world? Why was I not consulted? And if I am compelled to take part in it, Where is the director? I want to see him” (Soren Kierkegaard).

I know this Director. Actually, He is a great friend of mine and I happen to work for Him as his administrative assistant. Come right this way, I will take you to Him. For that is my job…

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