True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.CS Lewis
On that day you will no longer need to be ashamed,Zephaniah 3:11 KJV
for you will no longer be rebels against me.
I will remove all proud and arrogant people from among you.
There will be no more haughtiness on my holy mountain.
The teacher observed their students who groaned or sighed in relief at the papers in front of them. The tense air from before snapping like a glow stick, illuminating the stress this test caused. The teacher fought a laugh, but let a smile through.
“Yes, everyone, the worse is now over.” Cheers of joy and sighs of relief interrupted the teacher’s speech. “And yes, everyone passed. So, we can relax now.” Another chorus of cheers. “But we will review and study the answers next week.” The bell rang. “Enjoy your weekend!” The teacher said happily as students jumped for joy and rushed out of the classroom. The teacher shook their head and let out the laugh they had been holding back. They began to clean up the classroom when they saw a student left in the back.
“Alex, is everything alright?” The teacher approached their student, who still sat there gaping at the test.
“Why did I get a 90?” Alex’s voice was airy and quiet. The teacher knew Alex was a shy student, but there was something different about them this time.
“Well, you did very well on the test and missed some of the essay question, but it was hard. Everyone missed it.” The teacher explained as they leaned on the desk behind them.
“But not everyone got a 90. Sam did better on the study guide, but only got an 80.” Alex was almost shaking; their breathing became heavier. “Why did I get a 90?” Alex finally looked to the teacher. The teacher bit their lip at the imploring distraught gaze. Then the teacher sighed and looked back at Alex.
“Alex, did you not study?” The teacher asked firmly.
“And did you take your time during the test?” The teacher pushed.
“Yeah,” Alex answered softly and looked away. They both knew Alex was the last student done on the test.
“So why should you not have gotten a 90?” The teacher finally asked.
“Because, because,” Alex gaped for an answer but he gave up with a huff and looked away. The teacher held in a sigh. Alex had been struggling with the current content for the past two months. The study guide the teacher gave out last week was extremely hard. Sam did get a 90, Alex received a 60. Alex had come in after class every day to understand the guide, and the teacher knew Alex was doing the same thing at home.
“Why is getting a 90 so bad? You worked hard and did good.” The teacher praised.
“Then why didn’t I do good before?” Alex huffed and crossed their arms. “Why was it still hard? Why do I feel like if I took this test again, I would fail? There must’ve been something else I did wrong.” Alex rattled on not even looking at the test or the teacher.
“So, you’re saying I graded the test wrong?” Alex’s gaze returned to the teacher; their eyes wide. The teacher kept their face neutral and continued. “Because I assure you, I graded everyone’s test the same. With a computer that I just plug numbers in.”
“I’m not saying that, I’m just, ugh!” Alex laid his head on the desk in defeat. The teacher covered their mouth to hold their laughter back.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” The teacher quoted once they knew they would not laugh at their student’s pure confusion.
“What?” Alex peeked out from their defeated stance.
“A quote from C.S. Lewis. It helps remind me that Accepting correction, bad grades is okay, but also accepting praise and good grades is a good thing too. As long as my goal is done, and I learn, that is the important thing.” The teacher squatted down to Alex’s eye level and gently took the test. “This test might not have made you understand the content, but it showed you the importance of working hard, taking your time, and the fact that you can pass. You achieved your goal. There’s nothing else to do but keep going. Keep working hard, keep taking your time, and don’t think you can’t pass, because now you know you can.” The teacher smiled at Alex and handed the test back. Alex sat up and stared at the test.
“But it’s not perfect.” Alex mumbled.
“Then, there is still work to do. But at least now you know it is not impossible.”
I am an English teacher in China. Another fact about me is that I might (most likely, probably) have Dyslexia. I never got tested, but all the symptoms are there or something. Anyway, I was both the teacher and the student.
As a teacher, I get the famous question of “What can my child do to get better?” And while I understand that question (parents only want the best for their kids, even the best in the kid themselves), sometimes that question really bugs me. If your child went from stuttering every word, to finally speaking a sentence without a stutter, that’s amazing! Your child is doing great. They may not be the best in the class, but they are doing the best for themselves. I’m practically willing the parents to accept the praise instead of telling me how much they practice at home and their kid still messes up. It’s heartbreaking. But how many times do we do that to God?
Something good happens to us, and we wait for the other shoe to drop. We wait for something to come ruin that good or take it away. In school I was the kid that had to fight for a B. I remember a year in High school that I had nothing above a 70% on every English paper except one. I did so much extra credit for that class. But I fought and worked for good marks. So come to my work life, I get observed, I get a high mark, and no one else did. I thought I would be ecstatic, everyone else was happy for me, but I was scared. I was scared that it was fake, that I didn’t deserve it, that maybe I needed to work harder, that it was just a one-time thing. Like Alex in the story, I did bad on the mock observation before the official one. So, to get such a high mark on the official observation really scared me.
God had to show me and teach me a different way to be humble. I always saw humility in accepting correction, never praise. But it never said only correction, I added that. Humility is the ability to accept correction, not to look for it. I should be looking for God, and He is a God of love, praise, and correction. My goal shouldn’t be to fix what I did wrong, but to simply look for God in every situation, even the good or best ones.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.Philippians 4:11-13 NLT