Itâ€™s not hard to guess how students are feeling when theyâ€™re ushered in to my office to have a little chat. The expression on the face usually gives away the particular emotions! One of the things Iâ€™ve grown increasingly convinced over the years is important for kids to hear at a time like that is, â€œI know what thatâ€™s like, because Iâ€™ve done that too.â€ They usually perk at the news that their principal has his own checkered childhood history! Sometimes Iâ€™ll share a little story from one of my own more regrettable escapades.
They also typically hear, â€œIâ€™m not angry with you.â€ Anger is a valuable and appropriate reaction only on rare occasions. Most often, itâ€™s more true and helpful for me to reassure them that Iâ€™m not angry, just wanting to help them find a solution. I try to keep in mind that our good Father looks upon us as His children, seeking for these children entrusted to us to experience something of the Father in the way we treat them.
I had a lovely moment not long ago when I was speaking with a young fellow about some very unpleasant behaviour. I used the words â€œtoxicâ€ and â€œpoisonâ€ in relation to his actions (and quickly reminded him that his teachers and parents and I are guilty of introducing poisons to the people around us too…. kids need to hear that weâ€™re all alike before Christ). He seemed burdened by the thought, and hung his head a little. But then I had the chance to remind him that our poisons are washed away when weâ€™re forgiven â€“ that theyâ€™re not held against us any more. And then the lovely moment arrived. He smiled. It was the genuine smile of grace hitting home. The burden was gone.
What a wonderful God we serve, who lifts heavy burdens and turns our guilt into smiles! (mm)