“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions. Visit lcms.org/wellness for more resources.

By Stephenie Hovland, Lutheran teacher, writer, and church musician

God gives growth

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Cor. 3:6–7)

My phone vibrated one evening. I checked it and recognized the name of a former student, who had never messaged me before. He was asking for writing advice.

This was shocking to me for multiple reasons.

Not only is he a grown man now, but, when he was my student, he didn’t stand out for his creative writing. He never seemed remotely interested in those projects.

I don’t remember him asking me for any advice when I was his classroom teacher, and here he was, on a Friday evening no less, asking for my advice on his writing project.

He even used one of my favorite words — onomatopoeia! Wow!

To say the least, I was excited to hear from him.

There are so many days when it seems like my words, as a teacher, fall on deaf ears. Nothing is more satisfying to me than to see those “light-bulb moments” in my students — when their faces light up, because they finally get it.

Lately, for me, it seems those moments are few and far between. I have had days, weeks, and even months go by where I don’t see light-bulb moments.

It’s easy to begin to feel like students are hardened to education and God’s Word.

Sometimes I wonder if I can ever get through to a student again. Some students are tough to influence, while others simply won’t let it show.

My teaching confidence should not hinge on such moments, but it is discouraging to get no positive feedback for so long.

I realize that sometimes I will not see how much I’ve affected students. They may message me years later, but most likely they will not.

It’s important to realize that, just as my writing lessons may take years to bear fruit, the Word of God that is infused into my teaching will bear fruit at God’s timing, not mine.

And, I may never witness that fruit. The fruit, instead, may be someone else’s joy.

May I never take sole credit for God’s work in my students’ lives. Surely, they have had seeds sown and watered by many individuals over time.

If it is my time to see the growth and witness the fruit borne, I want to appreciate it as God’s work — God’s growth — and rejoice in it!

Holy Spirit, I pray for your encouragement when I am not seeing evidence of growth in my students or those I touch with the Word in this life. Let me ever praise You for the growth I do witness. To You alone be the glory, in Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” devotions and prayers will be released Monday mornings on the LCMS Facebook and Twitter pages. Church Worker Wellness devotions will also be archived online.

LCMS church workers and their families are invited to offer encouragement to other workers and families by submitting a 500-word devotion for the Synod’s worker-to-worker wellness devotion series. Email questions and submissions to workerwellness@lcms.org.