Some Things New: At Work

Before I left Yakutsk for my summer vacation, I was offered a promotion at school.  I was asked to take on the position of head teacher for children, and I accepted the offer.

Actually, the person who recommended me for the position had told me about her recommendation several weeks before the offer was officially made.  When she told me about it, I felt flattered to be thought of as having proven myself to the point that my employers thought me capable of holding that position, particularly because I have so little experience as a teacher.  But more than flattered, I felt an overwhelming sense of awe that God could have taken me so far in so short a time.  I mean, come on; up until two years ago I wasn’t even a teacher and I consider this to be my first real teaching job (Indonesia was my trial-by-fire internship so I don’t count it as my first teaching job).

Meanwhile, I was thankful for the heads up that I was under consideration for the head teacher position because it gave me more than adequate time to pray and seek God over the decision.  It seems like it should be a no-brainer for me to accept a promotion but these types of decisions are no longer no-brainers for me.  I’ve learned the hard way that God’s plans for me are far greater and far better than any plans that I could cook up for myself.  I’ve also learned the hard way that making my own decisions without God’s input is a surefire way to eventual disaster.  Another consideration for me was that God has planted a few dreams in my heart and I don’t want anything to interfere with me accomplishing those dreams.  That is to say, a promotion is nice but if it happens to be a distraction from what I’m really supposed to be doing and if it comes at the price of missing out on even the smallest of my God-given dreams, then I don’t want the promotion.

At the heart of it all, I have no desire to do anything that isn’t a part of God’s will for me.  This is why I was grateful to be blessed with the opportunity to pray about and contemplate the potential offer at my leisure before the actual offer materialised.  Within a few days of getting the information about the possible promotion, I felt sure that accepting it was in God’s will for me.  Reasoning wasn’t involved in my contemplation process but after the decision was made, it became clear to me that accepting the position could result in benefits to those same God-given dreams.  At the very least, I believed that it would give me the opportunity to have a little more godly influence in my place of work.

With my prayer and contemplation done, I was prepared to answer on the spot when the offer finally came near the end of my time working through summer camp.  Even though I’d had time to process the possibility and wasn’t surprised by the offer, it still moved me to the verge of tears when it was finally made.  Only my ingrained professionalism held those tears (mostly) in check.  The reason for my emotionalism was simple: I felt that overwhelming sense of awe again at God’s goodness and grace and my awe tried to leak out through my eyes.

So the offer was made, I accepted it and went off on holiday soon afterwards.  Totally in opposition to what I would have done during my corporate years, I didn’t think about my new position at all while I was on vacation.  In fact, I put it so far to the back of my mind that I almost forgot to tell the important people in my life about it when I saw them over the summer (not including my sister and Emma; I told them right away when I got the heads up of what was possibly coming).  I knew some of the things that I would need to get done early in the school year and I knew that if I got started on them during August, it would make my September much easier.  But I also knew that I needed to fully rest and rejuvenate in preparation for the new school year, so I focused on enjoying myself and didn’t let anything related to work invade my mind.  When I returned to Yakutsk at the very beginning of September, I still had a week of vacation left but I jumped right into my new duties with both feet anyway.

So what changes have this new position wrought in my life?  There have been several, actually.  Unlike last school year when I had a weekday off and worked on Saturdays, I now work all five weekdays and have full weekends off.  That’s two days off in a row, which will come in handy if and when I want to take on certain excursions or adventures.

My teaching hours have also been reduced to about seventy percent of my hours from last school year.  That doesn’t mean I’m kicking back on Easy Street, though.  Those non-teaching hours are filled with problem solving, process improvements and administrative work.  Considering that those are strengths that I developed throughout my corporate years, this part of the role isn’t new territory for me, even though it’s still intensive work.

Another change is that I no longer teach students who are older than twelve years old.  Thank you, Jesus and amen!  Nothing against teens and adults, but last school year and my visit to Churapcha made it abundantly clear to me that my teaching sweet spot is children so I’m more than happy to be totally focused on them when it comes to the teaching part of my job.

I’m also held accountable for the quality of the product that we deliver to our clients.  That is to say, I have to make sure that our children’s teachers are giving high quality lessons to our students, so that our clients (the students) succeed in their language acquisition process.  This responsibility includes making recommendations for improvements in lesson delivery, as well as conducting training seminars for our children’s teachers.

The last major change that this position has brought about is that I spend a little bit more time in meetings.  This is also reminiscent of my corporate years so I already have the skill of knowing how to ensure that my time spent in meetings is as productive as possible.

How have I been adjusting to my new position?  Not badly at all, actually.  Some of the things that are required are new to me but are nothing that I can’t figure out.  In fact, by the grace of God I’ve been delivering on my responsibilities at a pretty high level so far and I fully intend to keep that trend going.  My intention is to raise the bar so high for this position that when it’s time for me to vacate it, the requirements and expectations for the next person to fill it will have risen to new levels.

Having said all that, I admit that I have more on my plate, which means that my days are rarely calm and are fairly busy.  But, as a trained engineer, I try to continually evaluate my situation so that I can keep organising myself in such a way that I fulfill all of my committments and responsibilities without running myself ragged and burning out.  The fact is, I still have my other God-ordained dreams to work on, as well, so finding and maintaining a balance is very important, and God is helping me in that regard.  Mainly for my part, I don’t skimp on my daily one-on-one time with Him because that would end up causing more difficulty in the rest of my day.  For His part, He gives me inspiration for all sorts of things that make my efforts in the various spheres of my life that much more effective than if I was trying to do this all on my own.

This school year will surely be busy until the end but my prayer is that I will end it having accomplished all that God has set out for me to do, while still enjoying my leisure time and keeping my sanity and work-life balance in check.  With the Holy Spirit going ahead of me, behind me and beside me, it will happen.

Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  Psalm 143:10 (NASB)

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