Report cards came out last week. Do you feel any kind of reaction when you think about report cards? Were report cards a cause of anxiety for you when you were in school? (Or if you're a student now, maybe they still are?) If you're a parent, do they cause tension between you and your kids?
I must say that my perspective on report cards changed significantly when I became a teacher. Throughout most of my years as a student, I had always assumed that report cards held a very real kind of authority, as though that number or letter was a 100% accurate reflection of my performance in school. Thankfully, I don't recall my grades or report cards feeling too stressful, because for the most part I was able to get good grades by exerting what felt like a reasonable amount of effort. Still, I did hold up the markings on each report card as a kind of voice that held a lot of authority.
Then I started being the one who used that voice to speak over my own students, as their music teacher. All of a sudden, the voice felt much more limited and subjective than I had ever assumed it could be. I thought to myself, even if I use lots of objective tools to determine this child's grade, how can I sum up their performance with one letter or number? Is this really what it felt like when my teachers would give me grades?
In reality, I doubt most students generally put a whole lot of stock in their music grade. Music tends to be a fairly minor subject, not one in which people care too much if they get an A or B, just so long as they pass. But I wonder what it would have been like for me personally back when I was a student if I could have somehow known what it felt like to be on the other side of those report card grades. Could I have realized in a deeper way that it's really just a number or letter? Yes, it is providing valuable feedback, but no, it is not intended to define my worth as a person.
I once heard someone say, "My child is not my report card." (I missed writing down exactly who said it but it was on an episode of the Connected Families Podcast.) As a parent, I know for sure that sometimes my frustration over how one of my children is acting is rooted in the misguided belief that if my child is falling short in some way, it must be because I myself have fallen short. She is acting this way because I have failed. He isn't getting it because I'm not a good enough parent.
Now certainly there are times when my shortcomings as a parent do result in my child getting off track. However, there are also times when I may be doing everything right and still, my child makes a less than desirable choice. How can I learn to lovingly and gracefully keep parenting through both my own mistakes and my children's mistakes without filling my own report card with all of their grades? Furthermore, how can I keep from getting bogged down by that feeling that my worth depends on both my children and me getting straight A's?
Let's be honest. If there were report cards for parenting, no one is getting straight A's. At least not in every subject. Maybe for you it isn't parenting, but I bet most of us have some area of our lives in which we project that report card mentality onto ourselves. It could be the team you're coaching, or the business you're leading, or the party you're hosting. When the team loses, or the business fails, or the party is a flop, do you feel like you've gotten an F?
Your child is not your report card.
Your team is not your report card.
Your business is not your report card.
Your party is not your report card.
You are not defined by what you do, or how well whatever the thing or person is that you're trying to work with does.
Another statement I heard on that same podcast was this: "My kids have a lot of needs and I have a lot of needs but God can take care of all of us". No matter what failures we are dealing with, God's grace is sufficient. Let's remember that grace today, both for ourselves and our children. May that grace embolden us to press on and do those things God has created us to do, knowing that because of Jesus, our worth doesn't depend on our report card.
Pray with me...
... Father, let us live fully in Your grace in all that we do and may our students experience more of Your grace
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
... Jesus, strengthen all of us to do the work You've given us to do
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
... Holy Spirit, change the hearts and minds of all in the ACSD community to more deeply receive Your love
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Isaiah 43:4
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at email@example.com.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria
To God alone be the glory