I have served as a substitute teacher for many years. Mainly because I like getting to know my children’s peers and understanding their world. My enjoyment of substitute teaching ramped up once my kids became tweens/teens because pouring into the lives of kids that age can have long term ramifications.
That happened today.
A teen boy was being disobedient, not doing as instructed and he was choosing to be a royal pest to the students around him. After a couple of warnings I told him to head to the office and let the Principal know why I had sent him there.
He walked out the door and I saw him leaning against the wall outside my door. After getting the other students settled back into what they were doing I stepped into the hallway.
The look on his face was sheer dread. Initially he fain ignorance, then he claimed he did nothing wrong, then he argued that others were acting worse than him, finally he begged for mercy. He genuinely looked like he was in full fledged fight or flight mode. I truly felt sorry for him and wondered if this would lead to a major punishment or the inability to participate in some athletic endeavor. I didn’t know why he was in such a state of panic…but it was obvious he was.
I wanted to cave. Give him a sweet warning and send him back into the classroom.
The Holy Spirit had a different plan.
I looked him right in the eye and told him he needed to man up and take responsibility for his actions. I explained that God was obviously wanting him to learn something from this experience. I told him he obviously knew better and later in his life the stakes were going to be higher. I asked him to think about just what God wanted from him and to head to the principals office, do the right thing and man up.
He was not happy as he walked away. The room I was in is directly across from the office and initially he was giving a litany of excuses to the the ladies in the office and was well on his way to dodging responsibility as he waited for the Principal.
He came back to the classroom just after the end of class bell rang, got his books and backpack walked over to my desk and apologized. He seemed reluctant, or embarrassed, I wasn’t sure which.
At the end of the day on my way out of the school building I stopped by the Principal’s office to see how things had gone. The Principal shared with me that the young man readily admitted his actions, said he was wrong and said I should have called him on it and that he was sorry.
I was shocked…I figured he had done with the Principal the same he had done with me.
Knowing that he took responsibility for his actions made my entire day.
The only way young men will ever learn to “step up” and do the right thing is if they are challenged to do so.