ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

for Christians working in education

Lessons from the fireman

Lessons from the fireman

posted Thursday 10th July 2014 by Robert Hall

Our language is indeed strange, as the term fireman can mean one who puts out fires, or the exact opposite, one who tends and encourages them.

I am fortunate to have in my house two things which come into their own in winter: an open fireplace and a cellar in which I store wood for the fire. The wood is gathered from various sources, including building materials discarded by my builder son. Even suitable garden prunings find their way into the cellar to be stored for kindling. The cellar acts as a place in which wood is sorted, sawn and split into appropriate sizes for the fireplace.

Some seasons ago I made a serious error. Cutting back an over ambitious rose bush I kept the thicker woody stems for kindling, forgetting that they would be almost impossible to handle without injury. I had to wear thick gloves which, as you will perhaps know, impair dexterity. So I fumbled about trying to avoid the thorns.

Although I have managed to burn most of the hazardous thorny kindling, I am always cautious about handling the thin sticks in the dim light of the cellar, lest I pick up a vicious thorny one.

The analogy is perhaps obvious. In Genesis chapter three we learn how a serious error of judgement led to far-reaching consequences. If only I had thought for a few seconds about the consequences of razor-sharp thorns in my woodpile!
The same is true in the world of work. Some colleagues and some pupils, cause severe pain and distress. We can try and take precautions like wearing very thick and clumsy gloves, but that reduces our potential dexterity. As the work of the fireman is all done by hand, so is the work of the classroom and staffroom. Thick and insensitive skins blunt our effectiveness, so we have to remove the protection and run the risk of pain and hurt if we are to have the best kind of influence in our school or college.

My prayer for ACT members is that in the struggles of the classroom and staffroom they will have the courage to minister sensitively and personally, even amongst troubled and prickly souls, though it means being vulnerable and taking risks. I pray that our God will protect his people from harm and that our heavenly Father will change prickly lives for the better.

Robert Hall


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