Character Focus: Joy
Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control (Galatians 5: 22-23)
Where do beginning teachers learn about ethical obligations related to the profession? It is through character development where one identifies what is right and wrong. Is it ethical to waive an assignment for a student that misses a class due to a severe medical issue? Should a teacher provide a passing grade for a student that tries their best but does not meet the minimum requirements? Values, ethics, and career responsibilities should be a part of teacher education (Holmes, 1991). In Galatians 5 the Bible states that people who display the fruits of spirit are free from the law. In other words, character development provides teachers with the appropriate ethics, values, and career responsibilities that reduce or eliminate concern with the law. Focusing on joy can help to establish an appropriate character trait within teachers and students that is appropriate for all classroom settings.
Joy and happiness are different. Joy is a state of one’s character where happiness is a day-to-day state of emotions. For example, the loss of a job may influence your happiness but it should not reduce the joy of the Lord in one’s spirit. Similarly, for teachers, when a lesson goes wrong it may influence your immediate happiness, but it should not reduce the joy of teaching. Joyful teachers are good at maintaining a joyous attitude in all circumstances. Furthermore, teachers should encourage students to maintain a sense of joy within their heart even during difficult circumstances. The Bible reminds us that it is important for Christians to have a joyful heart in all situations. Romans 12: 12 states, “Be joyful in hope, patient, in affliction, and faithful in prayer” (NIV). Job was a good example of Joy. In the midst of suffering, Job maintained a joyful spirit through a closer connection with God. Will you use times of unhappiness to further develop joy within yourself? Individuals that are able to develop characteristics prior to entering the classroom may have an improved understanding of the ethics, values, and career responsibilities associated with teaching. As a teacher you will be unhappy, but do not allow your unhappiness to influence the Joy of your spirit.
Dr. Nathan Herzog