Trainee. That’s all his name tag said. Not “Bob, Trainee”. Just one word, “Trainee”. I felt bad for Trainee as the line at the Post Office grew longer and longer. Trainee would occasionally stop and have to go ask his supervisor a question. Waiting and more waiting. Trainee was slower and unsure of himself. Trainee didn’t know where everything was located. Trainee apologized and told me he was in-training. Yeah, I read your name tag.
Give Grace. Get Grace.
Years ago, I served as a substitute teacher at a local Christian school. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get back into the classroom after a 20-year absence. An added bonus was I could travel to school with one of my daughters. Win-win. She was in the high school area; I was in the elementary wing so our paths never really crossed which I think pleased her.
Receiving my first early morning call, I was excited to be the chosen one. A teacher was sick and I was up to bat. I was thrilled to feel like a professional again. I put on my teacher-looking clothes; sweat pants wouldn’t work for today. I packed my teacher lunch bag and was all set. My daughter was just happy she didn’t have to ride the school bus that morning.
I checked in at the office and I was given my name tag. Or what I thought would be my name tag. But instead I was handed a lanyard with a green piece of paper slipped into a plastic sleeve.
On it was written one word in boldletters: SUBSTITUTE
Come on. Really? Won’t everyone, both staff and children, know that I am not the regular teacher? Do we have to announce it like that? “Hello, my name is Substitute.” Do I need to be branded with this scarlet-word dangling around my neck too?
I have not forgotten that feeling. I wasn’t official, I was the substitute. The replacement, the stand-in. Usually, school-age children and teens rejoice when a substitute teacher walks into the room. Yay! Free day! Time for lots of pranks and silliness! Stop to consider what you and your classmates did to a substitute teacher. I know a young man who brought in a toaster and made toast for everyone. 🙂
A quiz? No, no. Our real teacher never gives us quizzes.
Science? No, no. We don’t have science books. (snicker, snicker)
We clearly recall our teacher, the real teacher, telling us today would be recess all day. Yep! A full day outside and toast too!
So I understood how Trainee felt. Everyone who came to Trainee’s line saw his name tag. Everyone I encountered saw mine.
I didn’t know where things were and would have to seek help. Yet, how do I leave a room full of fourth-graders to go get help? I stumbled and bumbled my way through the day and more days after that. I made tons of mistakes. It was a tremendously humbling experience but a learning experience too.
I am a Trainee in Christ. I don’t have any answers most days. I need lots of grace and patience from everyone I encounter. I make lots of mistakes and feel defeated many days. I have to stop (and should stop more often) to ask my Supervisor for help. Thankfully, He is never too busy to come to my aid. He is forever patient with me. Each day is a learning experience. It is a growing experience. I am a Trainee; growing more like Him, growing closer to Him.
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Philippians 3:1 (MSG)
So I was glad I was in Trainee’s line. I understood. I gave Grace because I need Grace. I wear the same name tag everyday. Trainee.
Let’s Walk Worthy!