Let's face it. Sometimes this calling / small 'v' vocation / ministry / whatever you want to call it, can drain the life right out of you. The classroom can be so demanding, busy, and stressful that praying can just seem like another thing added on your seemingly infinite to-do list. Well, we here at The Silversmith Collective are here to help!
1. Start your day off right
"Fill us at daybreak with your mercy, that all our days we may sing for joy" - Psalm 90:14
The ideal scenario would be to take 5 or 10 extra minutes in the morning (before running around making breakfast, lunches, getting kids out the door, packing up your supplies, making sure kids are ready, etc, etc etc. - Man, life is busy). If you can make this happen whether through getting up a bit earlier, or completing some of these tasks the night before, here are some resources you can use for a productive prayer time:
If this is not possible (which for many it isn't), see if you can take a couple minutes and spend that wonderful quiet time driving to work or that elusive chunk of time before the bell rings and the students arrive, to align your day with God. Here are some great resources to help you do that:
2. Don't let prayer become another thing 'to-do'
"If you're too busy to pray... you're too busy." - Blessed Mother Teresa
When I was working in Youth Ministry for my home town Catholic school board, I fell into this trap. My then struggle with time management mixed with a large work load eventually resulted in me viewing prayer and other personal faith building activities as 'work'. Prayer and anything else above and beyond the obligatory Sunday Mass turned into more boxes to check on my to-do list and more things added to the massive pile of things I already had to do. To avoid more to do, I avoided prayer. As you can imagine, this didn't help at all! Pretty sad, hey? The one thing that is supposed to feed my soul and give me strength for the journey (my faith) was now seen as a burden. Please do not go here. This is a very bad place to be. No matter how tired you are, or how busy you are, please prioritize some time to spend with God.
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest" - Matthew 11:28
Notice he didn't say "I might give you rest" or "I'll think about giving you rest". Nope. He says "I will give you rest".
Take him up on that offer!
3. Frequent the Sacraments
If we truly believe what we as Catholics claim to believe, that the Eucharist is not only the Source and Summit of our faith, but that it is also the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, and that we truly encounter Christ's Mercy and are wiped clean in the confessional - and if we view all of these truths in the context of our calling as teachers, then our need for the Sacraments should be right up there with our need for air, water, food, and shelter. Sounds extreme, I know. But, if we nourish and care for our bodies (Air, Water, Food, Shelter, Exercise) and our minds (Education), what are we doing for our souls? Just like a runner has to care for his or her body with proper nutrition, oxygen, training, detox, and rest, as laborers in the vineyard we need to be doing the same things for our souls too! The Sacraments are the perfect place to do so.
4. Go on Retreat, go to a conference, or join a group.
This may seem impossible during a busy and hectic school year, but it may be worth it if you can make it happen.
Throughout the year there are always events happening that are designed to strengthen your faith. Here are some ideas:
* The big issue here is time. You may not think you have enough time during the year. I want to encourage you to try. At the very least, try to go on retreat at the end of each school year to recharge your mental, physical, and spiritual batteries. This practice has proven to be very beneficial to my wife and I when we've been able to do it.
5. Embrace the gift you have of working at a Catholic School
Take advantage of the tremendous gift you have before you. You have the ability to work in a place where you can openly practice your faith! How amazing is that!
In every Catholic school there are always faith activities going on. Whether it's school Masses, assemblies and celebrations, Faith Development days, or simply Morning Prayer or Religious Studies classes. Take advantage of these times! Don't look at them as work. Look at them as opportunities for you to grow in Christ.
Think for just one second about the term Faith Development Day. This is a day set aside for teachers to grow in their faith. Time is set aside for this. Funds are set aside for this. You get paid for this. If you are a teacher who's school board provides these opportunities, please be thankful and take advantage of them. What a blessing!
Before I worked in parish ministry, I used to romanticize how cool it would be to work in a parish with an office mere steps away from Jesus in the chapel. During my time in parish ministry, I failed to take advantage of the many opportunities I had to be in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Now that I am not working in Parish ministry, I look back and think "why didn't I spend more time in the chapel?". Don't take this wonderful opportunity you have for granted. Many teachers have to keep their faith and work lives separate.
And as a bonus, if your students see you talking these opportunities seriously and to heart, they may be encouraged to do the same. Because, whether you think so or not, you're a role model!
5.1 - For teachers in non-Catholic schools
In this situation, all of your faith related activities will probably have to be done outside the classroom.
Whatever your situation is, know that there are plenty of great resources, people, and opportunities out there to help you on your journey, and keep your faith strong this year! Hang in there! We're praying for you!
More Faith Resources