A Daily Lenten Devotion

Who is the worst teacher you ever had?

I’m not sure I would have been able to understand Chemistry WITH a good teacher, but I would have at least had a fighting chance.

Mr. Williams (fictitious name) was my Chemistry teacher my junior year. I had to have Chemistry to get into the colleges I was applying to. He was the only teacher, so I had no choice. It was known as a “right of passage.” If you were going to go to college, you would have to endure Mr. Williams. Back then, tenure was something a teacher had, and unless they did horrific grievances, the administration would often leave them alone. This was long before the end of course testing, etc. So it was not uncommon for not great teachers to have very long careers.

Mr. Williams was a kind man, but sadly, this is more than just high school gossip. He was an alcoholic. He had his famous “Coke” glass bottle that he would keep with him every day. He reeked of alcohol, stumbled through the halls, and sometimes was barely audible as he lectured foreign phrases about carbon molecules.

Those students gifted in sciences were able to self-teach. But, unfortunately, the rest of us struggled through.

Since he had been teaching FOREVER, he used the same tests year after year. You had to find an upperclassman friend (or an entrepreneur who was selling their old tests), memorize them, and then you’d be ok.  He could care less what we did during class time, so we’d get in groups to study, and I ended up with an A- in the class. But only because I am a good memorizer. For the life of me, I remember NOTHING about chemistry.

We were memorizing something because we “have to” isn’t learning. Nor is the giver of said information a great teacher. A teacher is a part of the learning process, giving information, sure, and prodding us along in our learning journey. Making sure we are on the overall right path allows us to make mistakes on our trip because it is often in the mistakes that we learn the most.

We don’t see Jesus/God as a teacher who “makes” us do things differently. We are not puppets, and Jesus/God is a giant puppeteer. But we are on a journey. The ultimate lesson is Love. Everything can and will be based on Love. If we live that out in our everyday journey, the transformation not only happens around us but also in us. We will learn the tremendous universal lesson of what it means to embody God.

Can you identify some wisdom learned along the way that came from mistakes?

How is life, your great teacher?

Do you allow all lessons learned, both the goods and the ones that come the hard way, to lead you down a pathway of love?