Faith Enhancing Practice*#6 – Dilemmas and life difficulties (Classroom)

Powerful opportunities – teachable moments – as teachers and administrators we crave these times when it seems every student’s eye, ear, and heart is hyper tuned to the subject at hand. However sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances we would never hope for, yet provide teachable moments that will never be forgotten: such as the stories of classroom prayer times on the day of 9/11. I will never forget the response of prayer by my teachers in my childhood days following the assassination of national leaders and the sudden tragic death of a fellow student’s father in an accident. These are times when our words and actions are extraordinarily important in terms of how we reveal our own faith and shape the faith of those for whom we are responsible. It is our responsibility to make sure that we are equipped and ready for these situations of life difficulty whenever they may emerge with students.

Sometimes it is almost easier to know how to respond to a life difficulty, such as pain or loss. Dilemmas are more problematic because we are making choices between potentially unpleasant outcomes. Dilemmas also reveal our character and belief systems, leaving us open to criticism by those who judge our decisions and actions. We need to teach students how to make tough decisions when faced with dilemmas – what will be the guiding principles for them on which to base their decision? As Christians we believe the Bible is that source of truth for discernment.

But what about when Christians disagree? Are we teaching students how to be graceful in this disagreement of interpretation? As we know from history Christianity has been more harmed by human certitude than honoring of differences – but where and how do we teach students to draw some lines in the sand? I think that humility demands that we be less dogmatic where we run into issues with shades of gray, but I certainly hope that we will not shy away from discussion of dilemmas with our students. We may not be able to arrive at the “right” answer, but in the process we will be teaching them how to wrestle with authentic issues in a way that honors God and neighbor – and serves to enhance their own faith development. At the end of the day our wrestling must reflect the certain hope we embrace – Christ has come and his kingdom is coming in all its fullness.

*(For an explanation and definition of Faith Enhancing Practices see my post of February 3, 2007 entitled “What’s the difference between teachers?”) If you are interested in seeing all 12 Faith Enhancing Practices modules at once, you can go to the Member Community Center and access them there.

1 Comment

Filed under classroom, distinctively Christian, student outcomes

One response to “Faith Enhancing Practice*#6 – Dilemmas and life difficulties (Classroom)

  1. Renae Vander Molen

    As Christians, we are all faced with difficulties that we must wrestle with and I agree that we must look to the scriptures. I also agree that Christians disagree with each other on how to deal or face these difficulties. I have been thinking a lot about prayer lately and how it effects not only my daily life, but the daily life of every Christian.
    Prayer is the one thing that we have to communicate with our Lord and Savior. Since we are agreed that we must look to the scriptures for help, let’s take a look at Daniel. Even though Daniel knew that King Darius had signed an agreement that anyone who was praying to anything else would be sent straight to his death, Daniel still prayed three times a day. Now, lets skip ahead and look at Christ. When he came down in human flesh, he prayed to God for hours in a day. On the night of his death, he prayed all night long asking his Father if there was another way, but also to let His will be done. Do you think prayer in difficult times is important?
    I believe that in a Christian school, we must equip our students with the power of prayer and how important prayer is. God not only listens to us through our difficult times, but prayer also is a gateway to KNOW Him. I think that KNOWING God is the largest defense any Christian can have in difficult situations. If one KNOWS God, he or she can better discern what is right and wrong. For, as Christians, we know that God can not do wrong. If we want to emulate our Father, we must KNOW Him, and this is done through prayer.

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