Is Your Identity Found in the “Ping”?

Teaching can be consuming. How can you find the internal joy needed to continue to good work?

Christian Growth March 15, 2021

Ping! Can you hear the sound of your phone’s notification ring? Do you feel an impulsiveness to reach down and look at it? Ping! Ping! It’s begging for you to check it. Ping! Ping! Ping! It’s exceptionally persistent.

I’ve become painfully obsessed with my phone’s alert signal. These “pings” have inherently consumed my days at times. They always seem to require immediate attention… as if my life, my work, my identity depend on answering these “pings.”

I feel the all-consuming “pings” of my job as a Christian teacher constantly. It seems to never end. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. These “pings” can have an effect on our work as educators.

Recently, I heard of a book entitled Flow. In this book, the author states that joy from work is internal. Thus, the problem we run into is getting caught up in finding all the joy of our work externally at times—through the validation of others or how productive or efficient we can be. It sounds exhausting.

Ping! So back to this all-consuming signal. You know what else was all-consuming? The work that Jesus did on this earth. Like us, I believe He dealt with a lot of “pings” that required immediate attention. Pings for help, healing, wisdom, and more.

One of my favourite stories of Jesus, found toward the end of Mark Chapter 1, takes place on a Sabbath day in Galilee. To give you a quick overview of this day, Jesus teaches at a synagogue where He also heals a demon-possessed man, heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law during potluck, and ends the Sabbath at sunset healing, you guessed it, more people! They are relentless, even looking for Him the next morning before it is light out. Ping! Ping! Ping!

Here’s the best part though. While these people are looking for Jesus, verse 35 says, “Before daybreak… Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Amidst all these “pings,” Jesus saw it fit to begin His work day with His Father. Ping—nope! Before He answers to any external “pings,” His work is validated through His identity with God.

An impactful lesson modelled by the Master Teacher. This is the internal joy I find in my work as a teacher: an internal relationship in time spent with my Father. It’s the sort of internal joy that ultimately defines my life, my work, my identity. It’s what I want and hope to model to my students.

Although the “pings” of our phones and our work as educators are important (obviously Jesus found them important too, as He spent an entire Sabbath attending to them!), I believe it will be in these exceptionally quiet and meaningful moments that we’ll be able to find the internal joy needed to continue the good work we are doing as educators.

Ping! Now off we go to attend to our exceptional students with great joy.

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References

Czikszentmihalyi, M. (2008). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

Author

Jennica, BEd specializing in English, teaches elementary at West Coast Adventist School in British Columbia, Canada. She also teaches high school English at Fraser Valley Adventist Academy. She is in her fourth year of teaching and finds that the best parts of teaching are the relationships she forms with her students and fellow educators.

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