Last week I asked my son who is favorite elementary school teacher was. He named several, but our conversation gravitated toward Mrs. DeKam–an exceptionally special teacher, when we especially needed one.

The year before had been so difficult. My son had entered first grade as an enthusiastic learner who loved to try new things and explore new concepts. He ended with fists clenched and eyes downcast. I’m not sure I’ll ever completely understand what happened to his spirit that year, but I suspect it had something to do with the millions of red circles on his papers–all of the bs, ds, 9s, and 3s that looked to him like they were going in the right direction.

I prayed desperately that my boy’s second grade experience would be different, and the Lord sent us Mrs. DeKam. She was sunny and sweet and positive, but she had commensurately great expectations for her students. Rather than circling my son’s reversals (which were slowly disappearing on their own), she circled and starred and stickered and stamped all of the brilliant things he had done!

At the end of every day, she would smile into my son’s eyes and say, “Was it a good day?” Sometimes he would try to frown or turn away, but she’d keep asking, “Was it a good day?” until he had to smile and concede.

I think Mrs. DeKam pursues her students the way Jesus pursues his–persistently pressing us to higher standards; but with a smile, not an oppressive red pen. He sifts our work carefully, delighted to point out new growth. Then, after a hard day’s work, he smiles into our hearts and asks, ‘Was it a good day?’ And if he was in it–teaching us, and pursuing our hearts for righteousness–then we must smile and concede. It was a good day, indeed.

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