That is the most uninspiring title for someone desperate for some inspiration. In previous years, I have spent Novembers crafting schemes of work, designing potential learning programmes, reimagining lessons and translating those visions into lesson materials for the upcoming year. Novembers would be a period of evaluation, preparation, reflection and creativity. But this November feels like a stalled vehicle with an engine that does little more than sputter and cough.
I spent a large part of November 2014 coming to terms with the emotions wracked up from a number of events that happened this year. I lost a friendship that still leaves me bewildered and embarrassed. I deleted her from my Facebook and Instagram accounts and left all mutual group chats so I need not have to deal with the constant reminder of what we lost. I struggle to accept my deployment for next year with joy, feeling indignation and jealousy toward some colleagues, and at the same time, trying to remind myself to give thanks to God for His providence (James 1:17). I struggle to get down to work – I have lost considerable momentum and inspiration in preparing for the coming year. I stare and stare at the schemes of work or at the resources and feel… nothing.
No idea comes to mind to make it better, or more accessible, or more relevant. No motivation comes either, and I am left sitting in front of my laptop, feeling shriveled and terribly uninspired and bored.
Hence the urge to find inspiration through WordPress. If I look back at 2011 to 2014 and ask myself what drove me these four years, what would I say?
Students who enjoy learning
When they start to pick up confidence in themselves and believe that they can achieve their personal goals, they start to enjoy the process of learning… and in turn, they inspire you.
Being a part of their growing up
Students grow and mature in a variety of ways, and one of the best parts of the job is to simply be a part of their life when it happens. To watch a student participate in a competition, rise to occasion, and win, is gold. To watch them grow in ability and confidence, is pure bliss.
Being thanked for being a part
Sometimes the student turns back and thank you, and most of the other times, the student does not. Nonetheless, you experience joy on both occasions – and you wish for them to succeed over and over again, even if they do not recognise you or thank you for it.
When a programme works
At other times, I also feel happy when a learning programme is implemented and is proven to work – either it reaps visible results that pleases others, or it receives outstandingly great feedback from teachers and students, or students enjoy it so much they ask about it again, or your team of colleagues believe in the project so much they want to do it again, and better.
These are the things that drive me. When I work this holiday, it has to contribute to at least one of the four things that drives me.
But as humans we do wear out and get tired, and I think we need a higher purpose to sustain us in the long run. Colossians 3: 23 and 24 says:
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
This principle, although familiar, is different from the rhetoric that we are so used to. The world tells us that we ought to add fuel to what drives us – our goals, our ambitions, our emotions – and these should be in essence, good virtuous things. But this drive is personal, and therefore has to be narrow-mindedly conceived.
On the contrary, the Bible tells us that our goals should not merely be what would give us pleasure. Perhaps one day, I may be called to do something with all my heart, even if it does not interest me. Perhaps one day, I may be called to do what I have personally never dreamed of doing. Instead, we are asked to work at everything with all my heart because we are working – we are living – for the Lord. The last thing we want is to serve ourselves based on our very narrow-minded goals. Our God is omniscient, I think that truth alone is sufficient to convince me to trust in the Lord and His plans for me. (Psalm 3: 5,6)
Coming back to this issue of being inspired, I think what I lack is not inspiration for work, but inspiration to work. And this ill, can only be treated by the spiritual intimacy to bring me back to Christ.
May our hearts be soothed.