Do You Make the Grade?

Tobias von der Haar, Flickr
Tobias von der Haar, Flickr

I’m not sure where things went off the rail in my apologetics course, but there was a schism growing between the class and the professor. Our prof was a swell man and a true scholar. I’d often sit amazed listening to him march through church history, doctrines, councils, and personages, all without notes, and facilitate great discussion.

Since most of us had other classes with him, we knew what to expect of his sessions. They were challenging but not difficult. Yet something baffling began happening in this class. Students started receiving low grades and didn’t understand why. When we inquired, our work just wasn’t up to par and not what he had explained. When it happened with a major topical essay, it was a last straw for some.

Mad and I Won’t Be Silent!

One of my buddies in the class got downright angry, and his response surprised me. He was taking the matter to the dean of the department. This guy was well-liked for his gentle and friendly demeanor, so I was stunned at his reaction. To me his response was overboard.

Now, I wasn’t happy about my grade either. I had written the biggest and most deeply researched paper I ever composed in grad school and was happy with what I had produced, knowing I had satisfied the professor’s requirements. When I received a “D” for it, I was dumbstruck; and so it went for most of the class, now for the second or third time.

I didn’t know what the solution was, but I knew it wasn’t being up in arms and reporting the professor, as I was encouraged to do. I was grieved because my friend had the wrong spirit about him. He was furious and hostile. I advised him to talk with the professor instead of going to the dean. He flatly rejected the idea.

A Surprising Message

The most curious thing then happened. One day soon thereafter I returned from that class and discovered that the professor had emailed me in that short time. It was a surprise since I wasn’t sure when I had given him my email address. But it was his memo that was still more surprising.

marsmettnn tallahassee, Flickr
marsmettnn, Flickr

He too knew something wasn’t right in the class, and he wrote to ask for my opinion about how to resolve it. Talk about shocked!

I used the moment to voice the concerns of the class. I told him that we were grasping all that he taught and meeting his stated demands; however, if there was more he desired, it wasn’t being fully communicated. Then, I offered him some simple suggestions. Well that solved everyone’s problem. The professor re-graded papers and graciously tossed out other low scores.

In Step with the Spirit

I’m still struck by that lesson and favor from the Lord. When I read that email, my first thought was about my classmate who chose to lash out in anger rather than to be prayerful and find a satisfying resolution. That opportunity wouldn’t have come had I harbored a contemptible attitude.

Another occasion taught me like principle. I had to confront a matter with a superior since no one else would—not easy. I took a weekend just to pray about it. On Monday when I addressed my leader, he replied, “Yeah, the Lord spoke to me about that.” I didn’t have to say more.

I’ve learned that if I stay in the spirit of Christ, God will work out the kinks.

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