BY JUSTIN WHITE | March 23, 2023
“Listen, if you do what you need to do I will go to bat for you…”
In my 14 years of working in education, I don’t know how many times I’ve said this to a student—whether it’s a student dealing with a discipline issue, an academic issue, a socio-emotional one, or all of the above. When I say that statement to a student I’m doing two things. First, I’m reminding them that they have a choice, they have agency in how they go about whatever situation they’re in. Second, I’m telling them I’m willing to put myself out there to advocate for them.
In a lot of ways, isn’t this God’s message to us? It seems pretty simple, right? Do the right thing and you will be supported. Well, you and I know that if it was this easy then I wouldn’t have a job as a school counselor. And if it was this easy then Moses wouldn’t have needed to go to bat for the people of Israel.
But I want to focus less on the notion of doing or not doing the right thing, and focus on our call to journey with ourselves and with others. Inevitably, a student will not do the right thing and then I have a choice—to either throw up my hands in frustration and cast them aside, or double down even harder with my support. I’ve found that it’s in the moments where a student has exhausted all their grace—that the third, fourth, maybe even fifth invitation to enter back into right relationship is even more impactful. This is made even clearer when that student says, “Thanks for having my back.”
Sometimes our young people expect we adults to give up on them, because they are so ready to give up on themselves. Sometimes, we adults expect God to give up on us because we are so ready to give up on ourselves.
We can’t give up on each other, we can’t give up on ourselves. There is too much at stake and the construction of the Beloved Kingdom is way too important.
So, let us remember that we are God’s people and we are favored, full of flaws…but favored. And let us remind each other of that favor, testifying to the true truth of who we are and whose we are.
- When has God gone to bat for you? When have you gone to bat for others?
- Have you ever been tempted to give up on someone else or yourself? How did you respond?
Justin T. White is a middle school counselor, admissions associate, and clubs and activities coordinator at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, Maryland.