How to Teach Without Anxiety (even when everything is going wrong)
As teachers, it's easy to let the anxiety & stress crowd our every thought.
How am I ever going to finish my to-do list?
Is this school year going to turn out the way I want?
What is my admin thinking of me right now?
Anxiety keeps us from enjoying our jobs and even our time with family.
But it doesn’t have to be this way—at least, not for the Christian teacher.
We don’t have to spend the school year longing for summer, for a break from our worries.
We don’t have to be sick on Sunday night worrying about the upcoming week.
You see, God’s word is true and is the key to unlocking a life of joy and peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Many times, we read this verse, but nothing changes in our classroom. Maybe that's because we're not trusting Christ and surrendering to Him - allowing His peace to abide in us.
Let’s identify some of the most common anxieties teachers face and how we can overcome them.
How to teach without anxiety
1. Don't worry about the future.
When we fret over days that lie ahead, we either haven’t surrendered our future to God, or we’re not trusting Him to work it out.
For example, we may be stressing about where we're going to teach next year because we've secretly (or not so secretly) got our heart set on teaching at a certain school - as opposed to surrendering to happily teach wherever God wants us.
Or, we lose sleep over our student’s test scores and our own evaluations because we aren't truly trusting that God is in control of these things.
If we let all that go and surrender to what God has for us—if we trust Him that what He has is best—then we can stop being anxious or worried.
Instead of looking out for our own desired outcome, we must surrender the results to God.
Remember, trust is a choice. And if we are confident that God's results are what's best, then we only need to do what we can. And then we can blissfully leave the results entirely in His hands.
2. Let your concern be about pleasing God, not about what people think of you.
So much of our stress comes from our worries about how we are perceived. I see it all the time in our Facebook group.
We tend to stress about how we are viewed by administrations, by parents, and by other teachers. We tend to take things personally and get upset when we’re not treated right.
But honestly, does what they think really matter? It only matters if it’s affecting our testimony and how people perceive our God (such as if we’ve done something wrong and reflected poorly on Him.)
Have you surrendered your ego, your pride, to Him? Or do you hold your reputation as your hidden idol?
Are you more concerned about you reputation than you are about loving others and serving God?
When we're focused on what God thinks of our work, instead of what everyone else thinks, the anxiety falls away, and we're able to focus on what truly matters.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Gal 1:10 ESV
3. Turn to God when you don't know what to do.
Often, anxiety comes when we're facing a situation where we just don't know what to do.
So, what do we do? We work ourselves into a frenzy trying to figure it out.
Now yes, God has given us creative minds to solve problems and find solutions.
But you know you’re going too far when the panic and anxiety start to crowd in – when you can’t stop thinking about it.
We must surrender these questions to God and trust Him to guide us.
I've found that when I stop thinking with a one-track mind and give my concern to God, He brings clarity.
That doesn’t mean we stop talking to others or looking for answers. God often uses those things to guide us. However, we can choose to trust Him to guide us instead of leaning on our understanding.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6
4. Change how you think about difficult situations
Anxiety also comes when we don’t want to deal with what we know is coming.
We know that first-period class is going to be a trial. We dread that difficult parent coming in for a conference. We're hoping against hope that Evan doesn't sling his ketchup-ridden fries at us - again.
But in each of these cases, we must trust God to guide the situation and surrender the outcome to Him.
There is a reason He puts us in tough situations, and we must trust that He has a purpose for trials and will use them for good.
God could make everything smooth sailing, but then we’d never learn anything. Instead, He uses challenges to teach us, grow us.
We often have this idea that we deserve an easy life, but that's simply not the life God has called us to live. In fact, He’s specifically called us to trials and suffering. And through the storms, we can be an unshakable, unquenchable light for the Lord.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4
When we let go of our own expectations of ease, embrace God's plan (not ours) and choose to trust Him through it, we can truly teach without anxiety.
Need more help applying these truths? Join us in our free Teach Without Anxiety training.
Or, join us in Teach Uplifted where we'll spend 6 weeks diving into these truths together - learning to trust God allow His peace and joy to fill us, despite the challenges.