The other day I came across a note card that a kind and helpful colleague gave me on my first day as a college freshman composition and creative writing teacher. She wrote, “As English teachers we are blessed with unique opportunities to touch our students’ lives – often when we are not even aware of it.” Then she included this verse, “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” (Isaiah 50:4)

This verse holds a paradox, like a coin with two different sides. On one side is the “instructed tongue,” someone who’s been given wise words that will encourage and sustain others. On the other side is a person who is awakened every morning to listen and learn more. Teacher and student at the same time. Most days, I sense myself flipping back and forth between these two roles. And I like that. Even as I’m teaching a student, I am learning. About who they are, their unique learning style, about best ways to communicate a concept. In many of life’s arenas – the workplace, parenting, relationships – maintaining that balance between instructing and listening is absolutely essential.

I’ve been rereading parts of Luci Shaw’s “Breath for the Bones.”  At the end of chapter one, she explains how we are conduits for creativity. “In art and creativity, we make visible to others the beauty and meaning God has first pictured, or introduced, into our imaginations. In that sense we may each think of ourselves as a small extension of the creative mind of God.”  As He wakens us to listen “morning by morning,” we use our “instructed tongue” to help others. What we give is evidence of what we’ve been given and what we do, the result of what God has done in us. This is both humbling and honoring.

Whether it’s with actual words, spoken or written, or the work of our hands, we do have unique opportunities every day to touch others’ lives.  I am grateful to teach as one who is also being taught.

How do you see yourself as an instructor and as a learner as well?

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