By Vladimir Volegov
I saw the papers in my mailbox and briefly considered leaving them until Monday. The security guard, as usual, was politely waiting for me to leave so he could lock up, and I knew that the end of an exhausting work week was probably not the best time to read the details of my last observation. Being observed by my principal in the classroom is my least favorite part of being a first year teacher. I always wait in agony to get her notes in my mailbox. I couldn’t wait until Monday, so I grabbed the stack of messy handwritten notes and scanned them before walking out the door.
Was it good news? I wasn’t sure. My principal likes to write things down for us to reflect on so I couldn’t tell if her overall impression was positive or negative. There were a few little things that I could easily fix. So I should have put the papers back in my mailbox until Monday and been grateful for the feedback. I didn’t do that.
I spent most of my weekend agonizing over those comments, living the day that I was observed over and over and not using the time away from my classroom to recharge for the week ahead like I should have done. I have always cared way too much what people think about me and feedback from my boss that could in any way be construed as negative has consistently wrecked me since I started my first real job when I was 17. Working in education means constantly being evaluated, so this is clearly something I have to get over.
I would love to get to the place where I am grateful for good or bad feedback without letting it ruin my day. I love the poem If by Rudyard Kipling. Part of it says, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same…”
Some prayer and self-reflection led me to the obvious conclusion that pride and obsession with myself is a big part of my struggle with human approval. It is commonly said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” Ouch! If I thought of myself less, my thoughts that weekend would have been focused on praying for and serving others, being grateful for my wonderful job, and enjoying the time off.
I am so encouraged by Philippians 1:6 – “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (ESV). I am in awe of the fact that God never gives up on me or leaves me in my sin, but has made a way for me not to live in the ways of death. I hope that you are encouraged to be confident in His love and not be destroyed by the opinions of others.