Some people seem to be sensitive by nature. A temperament analysis would show them to have high expressive-responsive and sympathetic scores. For other people, however, being sensitive just does not come easily. Then, of course, there are those who are somewhere between highly responsive / sympathetic and inhibited / indifferent.
Wherever you may be on the sensitivity spectrum, if you want to effectively reach and teach people, you must be aware of their needs and feelings and respond accordingly. That does not mean that you let people walk all over you or that you compromise truth just to meet them where they are. But neither should you be cold and apathetic with rigid judgmentalism.
The Spirit of God can develop within you the balance you need to compassionately respond to people and still maintain healthy personal boundaries. Be aware, however, that once you see your need to develop a greater or more healthy sensitivity toward your students, it will probably not happen overnight. Being sensitive toward others entails the combination of a number of traits. God will no doubt work on these characteristics one by one until at last you become that sensitive teacher.
So what are those qualities that must first be developed in order for you to have a greater or more healthy sensitivity toward others?
Selfless: Philippians 2:3-4 exhorts you to not just look out for your own interests but also to be concerned about the interests of others. You should not be motivated by selfish ambition.
Empathetic: You must learn to put yourself in others' shoes. Jesus did that when He came to earth as a man (Phil. 2:5-8). As a result, He can truly say that He understands the plight of man having also been tempted, yet He did not compromise truth or find Himself in sin (Heb. 4:14-15).
Non-judgmental: You must accept others as they are with the ultimate goal of building them up (Rom. 14:1, 10-12; 15:1-2). Remember that there but for the grace of God, goes you!
Sincere: Be genuinely concerned. People will know you are sincere when you back up your words with actions as the Apostle Paul did in 1 Thessalonians 2:8-10. Paul said, "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."
Insightful: In Philippians 1:9-10 Paul says you need to "abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ." If you want to do what is best for your students, you must look beyond the obvious.
Tolerant: Sometimes you will not like what you see. According to 1 Corinthians 13:4, love is patient and kind. Colossians 3:13 urges you to "bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another."
Inter-dependent: Aim at making your relationship a two-way street. God designed the Body of Christ so that there should be an interdependency among its members (1 Cor. 12:12-26). As a teacher, you can easily fall into the trap of seeing yourself as above your students rather than alongside of them. Consequently you give and give but do not receive. This lack of reciprocity is that which produces an unhealthy relationship.
Value-giver: To be able to receive from others, you must value them. If you do not believe in a person's worth, it is hard to accept what he/she has to offer you. 1 Corinthians 13:7 tells you to "always protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere."
Encouraging: Love affirms others' being and abilities. You must consider how you can spur your students on to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24-25).
When you put all these qualities together you find someone who is sensitive, someone who will meet students where they are in respect to their needs, abilities, and interests. Then you also have someone who will be able to reach and teach effectively.
For Teachers: Take the time to go back through this devotional and read, from your Bible, each of the Scripture passages that correspond with the various qualities of a sensitive teacher. Let the Spirit speak to you about those traits which are missing or minimally displayed in your life. Write out the Scripture verse(s) that go with those traits on 3x5 cards. Put the cards at strategic places where you will be sure to see them. Read the verses every day for the next month. Perhaps you could even memorize them.
For Leaders: Pray about your own sensitivity toward your teachers. It is so easy to take them for granted, to forget that they too have needs and desires. Spend some one-on-one time with your teachers to get to know them better. Dare to talk about more than their teaching needs!
For Group Use: Write the word "sensitive" on the board or on a transparency in acrostic form. The bold words in this devotional, when kept in order, will fit into the acrostic. Do not, however, write out the words until the group first reads the corresponding Scripture. Let them try to come up with a word describing a sensitive teacher to fit the letter based on that Scripture passage.Share This with Others:
(Last updated 12/01/16)
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