“I am too busy!” Whose voice are you listening to?

“I am too busy!” Whose voice are you listening to?

“Be always willing to tell others about the One whom to know is life eternal.” (Michael Cassidy*)

“I am too busy!” “[Name} does not respond to all emails as he or she is too busy.” “If you don’t hear from me or us during the next [time period] …”

These are increasingly common responses I seem to bump into when I am trying to contact people of influence especially. Of course, they will have huge demands on their time. This is something I respect and accept. Michael Cassidy was never one of these people and for that I am truly grateful.

However, when I look at the life of Jesus as my role model, He never seemed to turn people away. Indeed, he sat in the dirt with some of them – humble, selfless, totally focused on the person or people who approached Him – empathized and gave them His time. There were occasions when His disciples tried to protect Him from the crowds, yet somehow He always knew there was someone who needed His words of encouragement. He was the master of effectively managing His time.

How do you encourage others? Do you set out to encourage just one person each day? This is what I am doing,as I learn how important it is to be available to others.

7 Key Qualities of Effective Teachers – Encouragement for Christian Educators

7  Key Qualities of Effective Teachers – Encouragement for Christian Educators aims to value, motivate, encourage, re-energize and inspire Christian teachers in their critically important role as transformative educators, in the hope that they will continue motivating and supporting students, colleagues and families to become the best people God created them to be to fulfill His greater purpose.

The Introduction provides an overview of the author’s Christian journey, from being diagnosed with cancer as a young boy, through his many life experiences as a student, teacher, sports coach to under nineteen international level, school principal, author and developer of youth mentoring programs and resources, working in Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Robin shares examples of how his teachers and other significant people, inspired, motivated and encouraged him in life-changing ways; lists the reasons for writing this user-friendly, multi-purpose book to encourage and inspire Christian teachers, many of whom are being battered in an increasingly secular working environment, and outlines different approaches to using the book – a short read from cover to cover (sixty to eighty minutes); to keep the book by the reader’s bed or in their work space for a chapter by chapter slow reflective read; for a personal retreat as the reader spends time with God and seeks his direction for their life; to share as part of staff devotions in their education environment; to use for staff professional development or to discuss and share ideas in fellowship with Christian colleagues. Beginning teachers will find many tips, ideas, thoughts and encouraging words as they set off on their teaching journey.

The book explores seven key qualities of an effective teacher, a visionary change-agent encouraged to role model a healthy and balanced lifestyle while being gentle and kind to oneself and those with whom one interacts: Relationships, Christlikeness, Empowerment, Empathy, Humility, Affirmation and Teamwork.

A chapter is devoted to each quality and interspersed with a variety of true stories from teachers in the front line to encourage and inspire the reader to stay on course with God in the months and years ahead. Teachers are reminded that these are key qualities of effective and authoritative Christian teachers pointing those they interact with, in the local and global community, to the relational Jesus.

Each chapter contains a prayerful reflection which can be undertaken by the reader at a time of their choosing; an encouraging and inspiring thought at the beginning of the chapter to reflect on; biblical quotes and references to provide compelling Biblical reasons to encourage and inspire readers to keep focusing on a relational God and practical strategies—72 strategies spread throughout the book—the reader can implement as a teacher. Each chapter concludes with Movers and Shakers, two true examples of how God uses ordinary, imperfect and fallible individuals to do his extraordinary work.

The content is a collation of the author’s 45 years in a variety of education, coaching, mentoring and leadership roles and some of the most recent youth brain research. It also encourages teachers to be aware of the importance of understanding how education fits within the continually changing twenty-first century global community.

What others say

Extract from the Foreword to the book:

 “Robin’s passion for young people and skill as a mentor is obviously divinely bestowed. I had the privilege of working with Robin, a profoundly gifted, wise and experienced educator, and can attest to his skill. In the following pages Robin tells his deeply personal and powerful story of becoming a teacher. He was so grateful to his teachers that he committed his life to mentoring others … You can use the book as an encouragement, a devotional, or even as a professional growth plan. I know that this book will be a great encouragement to you as you seek God with all your heart, mind and spirit. It is a reminder of what an extra-ordinary profession teaching is, how gifted you are by God and how amazing you are to simply turn up each day ready to shape the young people entrusted to your care.” (Dr Paul Browning, Headmaster, St Paul’s School, Brisbane, Australia)

Further comments:

“You have focused on a needed message and are proposing a resource that will encourage and inspire. Your framework … provide excellent ‘signposts’ for delving into the important understandings. Your personal story is compelling. You have experienced the difference that can come through effective and authentic mentoring. [The book] will impact many. It seems an excellent topic for these challenging times and believe it will be a blessing to many. That, in turn, means it can touch lives for eternity.” (Dave Wilcox, PhD., Assistant Vice President, Association of Christian Schools International (USA)

“The reality is that teaching is hard yakka [work] and even competent, experienced teachers feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task on an almost daily basis … So, I definitely think there is a need for [this] book. … Your story is very moving and the journey you have traveled with God and others has certainly equipped you to speak into this area.” (Kate, (teacher), New Zealand)

 “There is no doubt that Christians need to be encouraged both to consider teaching as a career (and a vocation) and to see their works as teachers as service to Christ. … it did strike me that many of the points you mention are going to be of equal interest in whatever country the book is being read.” (Hugh Bradby, General Secretary, The Independent Schools Christian Alliance (U.K.))

 “I think creating a book of inspiration and motivation for Christian teachers is a great idea.” (Bethany (school principal, New Zealand))

 “Thanks for sharing this product of a lifetime of passionate engagement with yourself, God and many children. It is filled with wonderful nuggets, Bible references and encouraging injunctions … Your intent and goal are great; there is a lot of solid, sage, faith-based advice … (Rudi, (educator and businessman), USA)

 “Your experiences of the Lord and the things you learnt as you grew up and entered the world of teaching will leave behind you a legacy that will, I trust, inspire many other teachers to leave their mark for good on the minds of those whom they teach … I have long come to the conclusion that the teaching profession is one of the highest professions and your words offer to Christian teachers the inspiration to pursue their calling with renewed commitment.” (Rev. Brian Bird, South Africa)

 “Immediately liked your very real, true story (a reminder to me that you did have a difficult childhood, youth) … it kind of ‘gripped me’ and I wanted to keep reading. Well done, amazing passion and vision.” (Julie (teacher), South Africa)

 “It was amazing and I was brought to tears with the honesty and openness of your story … it touches the core of your heart and so many people who read it will relate in some way to your personal story and your struggles with things that have happened, but also your struggles with your faith and walk with God. As I read it, my thought was: “Yes, this is something I would not only read but need to read.” … A short book that could be picked up and read in a short time would touch, refresh and renew one’s mind and soul is awesome. God has given you an amazing gift and many people will be touched, encouraged and inspired to continue to motivate those students and families in their care.” (Kim, (teacher-aide), Australia)

 I found [the book] truly inspiring! I love reading things that are put in a way that make me say: “I can do that!” So many Christian books are beyond my grasp – they are so spiritual that I feel I could never be that and so just give up. I love your writing style – easy and engaging. I never felt I had to force myself to finish. I just read until the end. I love the idea of a book that takes an hour to read!” (Bunty, (Occupational Therapist), South Africa)

 “Over-all impression: LOVE the whole concept of a mini-manual for the encouragement and motivation and “how-to”, for the likes of us. Yes, essential! You’ve worded it beautifully and explained your path with great sensitivity and joy, and yes, a sense of mission. It’s a great mouth-waterer … so delighted that after all the years, months and hours and hours, this is coming to fruition, that others might be helped on the road you’ve come to know so well.” (Les, (teacher), UK)

Use your time wisely

My God-given gift is to encourage others, especially educators and those working with young people. It is impossible to be everywhere and available to everyone twenty-four hours of the day. So, this book will be that encouragement.

Those who do not share my faith will probably show no interest. Some might be inquisitive, as all the strategies can be used by any teacher anywhere and I know, from personal experience, they lead to strong connections with students.

How can you encourage others? Just one way might be through sharing this information or this blog among your circle of friends or colleagues or supporters and becoming a collaborator or one of a movement of #teachers of hope.

Whose are you?

Is that the voice you are listening to?

* Michael Cassidy was the founder of African Enterprise. Its aim was to preach the Christian message in the cities and among the leadership of Africa. Michael, who has been described as ‘one of Africa’s foremost evangelists and prophets’, deeply impacted my life in the mid-80s when I ran youth symposia for young people of all races and cultures to prepare them for a post-apartheid South Africa. Michael mentored me, guided me and prayed for me, always had time for me and  was a role model to me of the meaning of servant leadership. His autobiography, Footprints in the African Sand, My life and times, is a book well worth reading to see how God calls individuals to do His work in quite amazing ways.

About the author: Robin Cox has been a School Principal, sports coach to National Under 19 Level, Youth Symposium Organizer, developer of Youth Mentoring Programs in New Zealand and Australia, Churchill Fellow and author of books linked to youth mentoring, Peer Mentoring and the development of adolescents to become the best they can be using their God-given talents. He has trained over 1,000 volunteer adult mentors, run workshops for teachers promoting the Spirit of Mentoring and personally mentored over 1,000 adolescents. Still an idealist, a cancer survivor of 50+ years, married with two adult children, Robin lives in New Zealand and shares a passion with anyone wanting to make a positive difference in the global community. You can see his short daily mentoring tips on Facebook or contact him through his Mentoring Matters website  Robin’s free Mentoring Minutes daily podcasts (each podcast between 2 and 4 minutes), containing hundreds of tips for anyone working with young people, are available hereAbout 45 blogs have been converted to short video clips, all of which are linked to encouraging youth to reach their potential. These are available on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHzVfIdmVQEwxTgvNKgp22g?view_as=subscriber