Teaching is an incredible profession. The opportunity to mentor & teach the next generation is truly astonishing.
But have you ever heard the expression “too much of a good thing is a bad thing”? I’m worried that’s exactly what’s happening to too many fantastic teachers.
Too many teachers have convinced themselves that they have to keep giving, giving, giving until there’s nothing left. That they have to spend every spare minute on teaching and that there simply isn’t time to rest.
But that’s not God’s plan. He ordained the Sabbath & designed rest for us because it’s important. Because we cannot thrive without it.
We have the best intentions. We’re focused on helping our students, making a difference, and doing our best. But we can’t miss the other very important piece of the equation: that we need rest and a frantic pace is simply unsustainable.
Wondering why? Here’s a few reasons…
8 Reasons You Can’t Keep Up this Pace
- Overwhelmed teachers are less effective than well-rested ones. When you’re stressed & overwhelmed, you’re more frazzled, more easily irritated, and you will probably start dropping the ball in some areas. But when you’re rested and refreshed you’re more present, more engaged, and more effective.
- God wants us to serve with joy. Psalm 100:2 encourages us to “Serve the Lord with gladness.” But that’s pretty hard to do this when you’re exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed, and aren’t taking enough time to refresh.
- We miss opportunities to help students. When we’re exasperated by our mile-long to-do list, it’s easy to overlook our students’ struggles and miss opportunities to encourage and mentor them.
- Teaching is just one aspect of your life & ministry. Teaching is an important calling, but it’s only one aspect of your life. An important one, yes, but not the only one. You have other areas that are important too, and maybe even other ministries. If you’re spending all you have on teaching, you’re probably neglecting other areas of your life. Areas that need you.
- Life is short. In Psalm 90:10-12, Moses talks about how quickly our lives pass and then asks God to “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” When we stop and think about how quickly time is passing and how each day can only be lived once, we realize how valuable each day is and how we must use it wisely. If you’re a parent, your kids are growing up fast (or at least that’s what they say. It doesn’t so much seem like that when they’re 1 and 3 ). But seriously, life is short, we only get so much time with our kids, and we don’t know what tomorrow holds. Teaching is worth our passion, our effort, and our time, but it shouldn’t be choking out the other aspects of our life that won’t last forever.
- You can’t keep up a frantic pace without consequences. Some days are going to be crazy, and certain weeks leave us wondering if we’re gonna’ make it. But if we keep up a frantic pace long-term, there are going to be serious consequences. At some point our health may suffer, our spiritual life may wither away, or we might end up hurting our family. And the trouble is that we can’t predict what the consequences will be, but know that they are coming one way or the other.
- When you say “yes” to spending more time on teaching, you’re saying “no” to something else. When it comes to teaching there will always be something else to do. Even if the stack of grading is finally finished and the lesson plans are miraculously done, you probably still have 129 other ideas of things you’d like to do. That’s all well and good. But it’s important to realize that every time you say “yes” to working another hour on teaching, you’re saying “no” to an hour of something else. Now sometimes that “yes” is worth it, and you should absolutely spend the time. But other times the unintended “no” is too costly, and you need to say “no” to teaching & “yes” to something else. What’s important is that you recognize this tradeoff & think it through each time you’re making the decision.
- You could burn out & quit teaching altogether. This is a sobering truth, but one that deserves serious consideration. If you allow teaching to take over your life, if you are constantly working at a frantic pace, if you can’t say “no” and are always tackling one more project, there’s a high probability you will burn out and not even be a teacher in 5 years. So please realize that while you’re killing yourself for your students, you might very well be neglecting your future students because you won’t even be around for them. Believe me, they’d rather have the you that’s learned balance & how to be an effective, efficient teacher without letting it consume your life.
Now I know I’ve painted a bit of a bleak picture, but I really want you to understand what’s at stake if you keep going the way you’re going. But don’t worry – I’m not going to leave you without a solution. Next week I’ll be speaking with Angela Watson of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. We’ll be discussing exactly how hundreds of teachers are cutting hours off their workweek & starting to find balance with the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club.