So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him. (Genesis 37:3-4)
Relate: Which is your favorite class? While not common, this is a question I have been asked more than a few times. Right up there with it is, “Who is your favorite student?” Over the course of a week, I have eleven different classes I will be teaching. A couple years ago at this time, in Istanbul, I was in seventeen classes covering four grades with about twenty students in each class. This year I have twelve classes in first or second grade with 24 students per class. You can imagine how often such a question might occur. The grade teacher for each of my classes then and now wants their class to be my favorite.
I will admit that it is not easy to avoid playing favorites. There are some classes that I really look forward to teaching and others that are a bit more of a challenge. Within each class, there are students that are such a joy and others, well… Funny thing is, not all my favorites are other teacher’s favorites. Beyond that, some of the classes in which I am a favorite are the ones ten minutes in I am desperately praying that the length of the fuze on my temper would magically grow a lot longer because I know I am reaching the end of it. As hard as it sometimes might be, I do my best to not let any of that show as I try hard to treat each student and each class with an equal measure of love and respect.
Jacob’s family is an excellent demonstration of why this is so important. Jacob grew up being mom’s favorite while his brother got all of dad’s attention. The conflict this created had him literally running for his life, but it didn’t have him learning any lessons. If we imagine Jacob’s twelve kids as a classroom, Reuben would be the know it all too big for his britches. That’s probably the nicest way I could describe a son trying to supplant dad by sleeping with one of dad’s concubines (read: stepmom). Simeon and Levi would be the troublemakers. By trouble I mean they tricked an entire town into getting an adult circumcision and then, before the pain cleared, went in and killed them all. Joseph was clearly the teacher’s pet. What did that get him? Beyond his big head, Joseph became the victim of a plot, was thrown into a pit, then sold as property to Potiphar. For a while, he prospered until he was put in prison. (From there he was propelled to the position of prime minister in case you wanted to use these “p’s” as preaching points)
React: Parents, teachers, bosses… playing favorites does nobody any favors. Each and every child (student/employee) is created differently. Some will be just like you, others are as different as night and day. Some will be brilliant others will have to struggle hard just to maintain a C average. Some will be natural athletes and others will find chewing gum while simultaneously walking a straight line to be an unconquerable challenge. Some will start talking the moment they wake up and continue doing so well past bedtime while others you will have to lean in just to hear their whispered three words for the day. Some will be beautiful while others will look more like me. Jealousies will abound. Rivalries will flourish. They don’t need our manifest favoritism to feed into them. God loves each and every one of us the same even as He deals with us all in a unique way best suited to who we are. We need to strive to do the same for others as well. This is what loving our neighbor is all about.
I am so grateful that You have poured out Your love and grace on one as unlovable as me. As I go about my day, and as I enter my classrooms, there are definitely some people I will interact with who are much more of a challenge to love. Help me to make the extra effort to see them as You do. Help me to love them as You do. I pray that everyone I speak to would be, in their own unique way, my favorite… just as they are Yours.