During the years I taught at a Christian school, we began the day with a Bible story. I told the stories mainly from memory, but I kept the text in front of me for details I might forget to include. I taught a combined fifth and sixth grade class, and we were covering the Passion stories. As I told the story of Jesus sharing the Passover meal with His disciples, an important detail caught my attention which I had not noticed before; the disciples argued about who would be first in God’s kingdom.
Wait… hadn’t Jesus already covered this ground? Had he not made it clear that His kingdom was about serving and not being served. As I later looked through the gospels, I confirmed that this conversation had taken place on two other occasions before the Last Supper. So here was Jesus about to sacrifice Himself so that they could spend eternity with Him in heaven, and they were concerned about who got the best position. This was a timely message for me because I had been repeating a lesson on behavior and was frustrated with the results. I don’t remember what it was I wanted my students to learn. What I vividly recall is what Jesus’s response taught me. He didn’t say, “I have more important matters on my mind,” “I don’t have time for this,” “How many times do I have to tell you…” He didn’t sigh before patiently repeating that His kingdom was about serving, not being served. He didn’t even remind them that He had explained this before. He knew this was part of the maturing process: He knew, with the exception of Judas, they would die serving Him, some a martyr’s death.
And the word for me: sometimes we have to hear or be instructed several times before we embrace a teaching whether it involves math or a moral principle. So if you’re a mother, teacher, or some other leader: be patient, trusting that in time, your pupils will learn.