Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bittersweet Decision

Last Thursday, I went to the school board office and turned in my resignation. I will not be returning to teach this fall. Thankfully, both my principal and superintendent were gracious and supportive. I have to admit it was a hard decision. It is hard to let people down.

Many of you had asked if I planned to return after maternity leave, and the truth was: I didn't. I am strongly convicted that a woman's first ministry is her home. And, contrary to what our feminist culture tells us, we cannot have it all.  Therefore, I did not plan to return after maternity leave.

So, this put me in a predicament of returning to work at the beginning of August, then leaving on maternity leave early to mid-October. I dreaded the thought of being secretive about my plans to take the rest of the year off, because I did not want to be dishonest. In addition, this would put my class without a teacher mid-year. I knew it would be much more difficult to find a good teacher to take my place mid-year than it would be during the summer.

So, after thinking and talking all of this through with Stephen, we decided it would be best for me to go ahead and resign.

I am excited to be able to be fully devoted to my husband, my baby, and my home. But, I am not naive. This decision will not be without sacrifice. Of course, we will have to sacrifice income, better health insurance, and some of our luxuries.  I am also aware that I will be sacrificing some "personal fulfillment" -  a year spent cleaning up puke and poop may not afford me the same sense of accomplishment that I felt from seeing students' test scores improve. But, I know experiencing the Lord's design for family will be well worth it.

Giving up a career for family is a bittersweet decision, but it is not a decision I second-guess. As I transition to full-time wife and mommy, I pray that the Lord would continuously remind me that His plans are better than any this world could offer.  I pray that I better understand the sweetness and beauty of the Gospel as I have the opportunity to lay down my own desires for those of my family. I pray that He reminds me to lay down my desires joyfully as my worship to Him. I pray that He teaches me much about Himself.

And, of course, I look forward to sharing my experiences and lessons learned with you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When You Need Advice

Who do you go to when you need advice?  Whose counsel do you seek?  

Our first instinct may be to say that we should never seek the counsel of man, but solely rely on the counsel of God.  While all counsel should be carefully scrutinized through the lens of scripture, the Bible itself tells us that wise counsel from others is a good and important thing.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:20-21

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26

However, we should receive counsel with discernment. 

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. I John 4:1

If we were to think Biblically about giving and receiving counsel, I believe it will have two important implications for us:

1)  We will carefully select whom we go to for counsel and/or whose counsel we heed.
  • Usually, we get advice from people who meet one of two criteria: they have experienced whatever it is we are going through or, they have received some sort of formal, usually secular, education on the issue at hand. When these two criteria become our sole premise for determining if another can give us sound counsel, we have elevated experience and education above the Word of God. While experience and education are useful, they are no replacement for Biblical counsel.
  • So, instead of searching for advice from someone who has "been there," search for people who will advise you Biblically. (If that person has also "been there," great!) I would much rather receive parenting advice from someone who has no children but thinks Biblically, than from someone who has a house full of kids but will only offer me the latest pop-psychology for advice. 
  • Sometimes, the right person to go to for counsel is one who you know will honestly tell you what is right/wrong even if it hurts your feelings. I beg you to make sure you have people like this in your life. Anyone can tell you things that will make you feel better, but a person who will give you Godly advice is a gem of a friend.
2) We will more carefully counsel others.
  • I have been guilty of offering cliche' and worldly advice.  Advice like, "You have to do what feels right,"  or "Make the decision that gives you peace,"  or "You have to take up for yourself." All of these are unbiblical and worldly advice that Christians are guilty of throwing around haphazardly.
  • I am especially guilty of giving such poor advice in day-to-day interactions. I don't consciously think of it as "advice."  But, it is. We must realize that we are constantly counseling people when we interact with them. Therefore, we must not be so flippant with our advice.  We should desire that all counsel we give is carefully based on the Word of God.
I pray that you seek Biblical counsel. I pray that you will have the guts to find someone who will advise you honestly even if it hurts your feelings.  I pray you will be more careful with the way in which you counsel others as you go about your day-to-day routine. May God be glorified as we seek to give and receive Godly counsel.