by Sara Breetzke, TCA Head of School
At Co-Teacher Training this year, I referenced the book Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. This is an inspirational read, and I’d recommend it to any mom, homeschool mom, co-teacher, or teacher – many of us could benefit from her ideas about life and learning.
But as I’ve thought more about her message, I think a more apt title may be Teaching with Faithfulness. In fact, I think we must pursue faithfulness before we have any hope of teaching our children – or doing any of our work – from a state of rest.
Of course, Teaching with Faithfulness probably wouldn’t sell as many copies because – well, because that title makes teaching sound difficult. And it is. It’s what I call a pleasurable difficulty, and it’s like most of the worthwhile activities in life: it takes grit.
Before we go any further, I want to talk about the word rest.
In her book, Mackenzie defines rest as “the absence of anxiety or frenzy.” When I think about life being free of anxiety or frenzy, I tend toward extremes. I will feel less anxious, I think, when I finally have everything done just the way I want it. Then, my anxiety-laden brain will be free.
Or I swing other direction: I’m just going to quit everything and check out on the couch. I tell myself that forgetting perfection – forgetting the to-do list entirely! – is the only way I can exit the frenzy of my days.
In both these cases, though, I’m making the same mistake: I am seeking rest with a focus on my own actions, and so I never can alter the state of my soul.
In contrast, Jesus called people in need of rest to turn their eyes away from themselves and toward him. In Matthew 11, he said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In these verses, Jesus promises us rest, but the steps he gives us to get there may not be what we expect: he says to take his yoke and to learn from him. In Jesus’ time, taking up a master’s yoke meant to become a disciple, to walk alongside the master and learn from him. Jesus is saying, I’ll give you rest; walk with me faithfully and you will find it.
If we hope for rest, then, we must practice faithfulness. There are three specific ways I am praying we grow in faithfulness this year at Trinity Classical Academy.
1. Faithfulness in Personal Devotion
If we hope to accomplish the big tasks before us this year, we are going to need to hang onto Jesus’ yoke tighter than ever, seeking him for guidance at every turn. Let’s be faithful in seeking Jesus as we teach our children, especially when the days are long or the tempers are short. I pray we are a people who see every difficulty as an opportunity to find hope in Jesus.
2. Faithfulness to Our Own Growth
In Teaching from Rest, Mackenzie reminds us that students become like their teachers. She says, “If we would like our children to practice deep thinking, contemplate big ideas, and relish truth and beauty … perhaps we should make that a habit ourselves.”
The truth is that it’s difficult to find opportunities to practice faithfulness as a scholar in the midst of homeschooling. That’s why TCA has created an event called Scholé Night, and we would like to invite you to attend. Scholé is the Greek word from which the word school originated, and it means leisure. Our Scholé Night is an evening of learning and leisure for parents who want to grow in knowledge of the classical canon and God’s amazing world.
Our speaker, Dr. Gabriel Haley, will speak about Greek plays and The Odyssey to complement our history studies. This event will be held at St. Paul’s Chapel on Thursday, October 20 at 6:30 p.m. We hope to see you there, faithfully pursuing your own learning.
3. Faithfulness to Our Students
It is difficult to be present. If you are like me, your mind is constantly going in ten directions. As a result, I struggle to focus exclusively on the task in front of me.
In a culture where productivity is glorified, I pray that we can increasingly give our students and their learning our full attention. The faithfulness of single-tasking (not multi-tasking) is a gift to our students and a gift to us as we take a step toward soul rest.
The best news about the goal of teaching from faithfulness is that we can’t do it. I know that I am consistently faced with my own distracted, cluttered, and unfaithful heart, but only from this place can I most clearly see the one who is faithful: Jesus. Only Jesus was and always is faithful to God in all things.
Most importantly, Jesus was faithful to fulfill God’s promise for salvation. He died on the cross so that we might no longer be measured by our faithfulness, but by his. When we focus on His faithful actions – not our own – we are freed to look beyond our failure and to rest in Him.
It is here we find freedom from frenzy and anxiety because we have nothing to prove. We don’t have to act to prove our own faithfulness, our own capability, or our own achievement as we teach or parent. Instead, we are free to calmly take Jesus’ yoke, to look to him for instruction, and to rest in what he has done. With our eyes on him, we can finally teach with faithfulness for each new day, and as we accept his instruction, we might even find rest.