Why I’m displaced
I currently teach at an elementary school in a large school district. Last week, we got an email from our principal about our student projections for next year. In that email, our principal asked for any voluntary transfers. Based on our projections, we would be losing three more teachers. In our school system, as in most controlled by a union, seniority is king. I knew that we had not hired any new teachers since I first arrived to the district three years ago. I was in danger of being displaced.
Displaced. It’s a dirty word for teachers. It means that you have lost your job with your current school, but that the district will give you another job somewhere else. Imagine that the company you work for told you that you still had a job, but you had to go work at another branch. It’s kind of like that. And the stigma that goes with displaced teachers isn’t so good. After all, if you couldn’t keep your job at your old school, why would we want you at ours?
You should know that I love teaching at my school. Sure, we have our crazy days, but overall, I enjoy everyday of my job. I have built a strong relationship with many parents, the administration, and the community, and have developed close friendships with several of the teachers. I currently serve on the leadership team and was elected as the Faculty Advisory Committee President. I only mention this to let you know that all my accomplishments and leadership skills didn’t matter in this decision. The three teachers with the least amount of years in the district would be displaced.
If you know me, then you know that I like to communicate things as clear as possible. I asked my principal if I was gone. She said that unless something changed by the next day, I was one of the bottom three that would be displaced. And nothing changed. My name was sent to HR and I am scheduled to go to a job fair for all the displaced teachers. It’s just not a fun thing to do.
Why I’m okay with it
I am okay with it. I really am. Of course, this is not what I had planned. And I am out there trying to find the best school with the best job. But this is a situation in which my worldview and my experience shows me that this will be a good thing. My worldview, in short, is that God is in control. Not only is that my worldview, but it’s my experience as well. My wife and I have put our faith in God, through Jesus, and he has never failed us–even though our faith is usually sub-standard.
For whatever reason, my current school is not where God wants me next year. I don’t know why. But I do know that God loves my family and me and that his plan for my life is much better than my own. In Jeremiah 29, God told the prophet Jeremiah to tell the people of Israel that they should settle down and pray for prosperity in the city in which they had been exiled. “Because if the city prospers, you too will prosper” (v. 7). Later, God told them,
“I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart. I will be found by you and will bring you back from captivity” (vv. 11-14).
Verse eleven has been used so many times without the context. Pay attention to verses thirteen and fourteen: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart. I will be found by you and will bring you back from captivity.” If we are seeking God, we will find him, and he will deliver us. It may not be in our time (70 years in exile is not really my timeframe for deliverance), but he will do it and he will cause us to prosper until then.
Why? So that we can share the gospel with the people in our current situation.
With this in mind, I look forward to what God has in store for us. The adventure continues.
*We continue to move forward with the Chicago Church Plant. Update to follow later this week.