Are You Taking Care of #1?

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If you are like me, your hobby is also your career!  Because of that, my tendency is to be consumed with teaching.  I am always looking for new ideas, new approaches of getting materials and concepts across to my students, and thinking of tangible ways students can be involved in the learning process so it will stick with them for life.

Additionally, I have many opportunities to work with students and teachers around the state throughout the year.  The huge question to ask ourselves is – Are we working so hard that we are running on empty?  Are we ourselves being filled, so that we can fill others?  If I am drained all the time, I don’t have the energy to get in front of people and pretend to be able to motivate them!   Are we neglecting our spiritual life due to our busy schedules?  If my strength comes from the Lord, can I keep going if I am not spending quality time with Him?  The answer is a resounding “No” – not without a lot of striving, worrying, and strained relationships with family, students and co-workers.

If I make a regular time to spend refreshing myself in the Word and in prayer relationship, He promises that everything I put my hand to will prosper (Deuteronomy 30:9).  He promises that He will never leave me, nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 and Joshua 1:5).  He promises that He will be my strength (Psalm 46:1, Jeremiah 16:19).  He promises that I will have the mind of Christ and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 2:16, James 1:5).  He promises that I will be like a tree planted by the streams of water (continually refreshed and watered) (Psalm 1:3).

That is Christ in the classroom!  I will be a renewed, refreshed, peace-filled, confident person.  His light will shine through me in my fresh attitude toward people, wisdom, and encouragement toward my students and colleagues.

If you are drained, tired, and carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, stop and take a few minutes to get refreshed in the Word and in His presence.  Set up a regular time in your schedule to meet with Him.  Keep a pad with you to write down the scriptures that come to mind.  Find promises in His Word that will give you strength when you need them and renew yourself. Many of us are guilty of cramming too much into our schedules and neglecting some of our most important relationships – God first, family next, and then our jobs.  We must keep each other accountable for this priority.  I know I need a reminder every once-in-a-while.  I am reminded about the flight attendant speech before take-off – you must put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you attend to your child or loved one; otherwise, you won’t be able to help them.

In Rick Renner’s book Sparkling Gems from the Greek – “It’s good to serve the Lord and to be willing to work. You should be faithful at whatever He has called you to do.  But you should never get so busy that you forget your own spiritual needs and thus end up running dry of spiritual power.  Take Paul’s words to heart.  Never forget to ‘Take heed unto thyself’!  If you are going to serve God and do His will for years to come, it is essential that you make your own spiritual life your first priority.  After all, you can only give what you have inside you.  If you run dry because you never spend time with the Lord, it won’t be long until you have nothing left to give to anyone!” Your spiritual life is your number one priority!

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Jim Matthews

About Jim Matthews

Jim Matthews is a veteran band director of 30 years at Jackson Middle School in Titusville, FL. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Florida State University. His bands continuously received superior ratings at band festivals. The bands have received the Florida Bandmaster’s Association Five, Ten, Fifteen, Twenty and Twenty-five Year Superior Awards for continuous Superior ratings. He is presently the Brevard County Music Instructional Coach for all secondary band directors. Jim co-founded the FLBandWorkshop for band directors held each summer in Titusville. It is a hands-on, in-depth workshop. For more information see FLBandWorkshop on FaceBook. He is a member of Florida Bandmaster’s Association, Music Educator’s National Conference and Phi Beta Mu – an International Honorary Band Director’s Fraternity. He is also a National Board Certified Teacher in music. For more information, see the About section.