Teacher Life: Taking My Place of Authority

I have never exerted so much authority in my life. Obedience and submission have always come more naturally to me than taking charge. I am good at going with the flow, I’m okay at questioning the flow, but starting the flow? Not so much.

When I started teaching kindergarten 2 months ago, being the authority felt very unnatural. I wondered whether I could really do it. To be the person up front speaking loudly, instructing, correcting, rewarding, arbitrating conflicts, answering miscellaneous questions, handling unforeseen crises––how could I possibly do all that, much less do it well?

Sometimes it’s hard to picture yourself in a new role. It’s difficult to believe in yourself in this new arena. You need somebody else to believe in you first. Not just a well-meaning friend, but someone who actually knows what it takes, knows you, and knows you can do it.

For me that person was God.

God was the one who would whisper to me in the hallway (when I was secretly on the verge of a nervous breakdown), Give me your burdens. I’ll carry them for you.

God was the one who would sit with me after a long day, help me process everything that happened, and give me clarity. God would not only remind me of who I was outside the classroom, but who I could be in the classroom.

God is the one who made something very clear to me: I CANNOT forfeit my authority. Not when it is something God has bestowed on me.

Now, at the two month mark, I can honestly say that I feel like a real kindergarten teacher, not just someone who happens to be teaching kindergarten. I can even say I love being a kindergarten teacher. I’ve been learning how to be hard on the kids when I should, how to give them the consequences they need, even when it breaks my heart a little.

But yesterday, something happened that shook me up and made me question all the progress I’d been making. Maybe I was wrong to punish the kids this and that way. Maybe I shouldn’t have said this or done that. Perhaps I didn’t really know what I was doing and should just give up.

I had to shove all those feelings down, because the kids, oblivious to my sudden perspective shift, were going about their merry way asking me for help zipping up their jackets, asking me for permission to go to the bathroom, climbing into my lap, complaining to me about inconsiderate things the other kids were doing, pretending to run out the door and then hesitating long enough for me to catch them and whisk them up into my arms.

Now, I can already look back and see that moment as a pebble-sized bump in the road of this adventure of being a kindergarten teacher. But at the time, the crisis felt huge.

My first instinct was to give up (some of) my authority.

But God said NO. God keeps telling me that it is essential that I TAKE MY PLACE.

A couple weeks ago, God said, Do you know why I’ve placed you in this role of authority? Do you know why it’s right for you to be there? Because you submit fully to Me.

In that moment, everything clicked into place. It’s not about proving myself to anyone. Not about scaring anyone into obeying me. It’s simply about knowing who I am. I am under the authority of the King. God has sent me to watch over these kids, to instruct them in the way that is right, and to love them with all my heart. So that’s what I’m gonna do.



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Elizabeth is a teacher, preacher, musician, and writer. She has a Master's of Divinity and a Master's of Music, which represent her two great loves: Jesus and the arts. A half-Korean, half-white American, she spent seven years in South Korea teaching English. Elizabeth is a perpetual learner, a deep feeler, and a pursuer of beauty and truth.

4 thoughts on “Teacher Life: Taking My Place of Authority

  1. Elizabeth! Your blog encourages me so much! I enjoy every post especially now that you teach too! How The Lord has used your words and experiences to teach and bless me. Thank you!

    Love in Christ,

    1. Aw, thank you, Annette!! This comment encourages me and blesses ME so much… Love you and miss you and hope everything is going well for you~

  2. Hi! Sounds hard but good. That’s right, hold on to your authority. Once you give in, it may be very difficult to recover the authority. It’s worth maintaining even in the face of possibly not being liked.

    1. Hi 이모! Yeah, thanks for the advice. Not being liked or appreciated can be really hard for me – it just feels exhausting sometimes! But I’m getting better at learning from some criticisms and letting others just bounce off of me… And in everything, His joy is my strength!

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