Teach by Example

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by Jennifer Sienes

When my children were small, I went back to college to earn my bachelor’s and teaching degrees, even though in my heart, I wanted to be a writer. Not the most practical profession when one needs to earn an income. School meant being gone two nights a week and every other Saturday for more than two years. I crammed study time between my part-time housecleaning business, shuffling my kids to 4-H meetings and the other myriad of house-wifely duties.

And it wasn’t until graduation night when we stopped for dinner at an upscale restaurant that I realized the true impact of that discipline and persistence. When our waiter asked if we were there to celebrate anything important, my son, then eight, piped up with, “My mom just graduated college. I’m going to do that someday.” He’d been watching.

Fast forward eleven years. I loved teaching middle school, but that desire God put on my heart to write wouldn’t be stilled. I went through some tragic circumstances, but as Romans 8:28 states We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. Through those circumstances, God blessed me with the opportunity and support to quit teaching and devote full time to writing. And my son was still watching.

I’ve been at this writing gig for almost seven years now, and although I’ve questioned the direction this journey will take, I’ve not questioned that I’m called to it. So many of us writers think that the ultimate success will be contracts and publication. But I’m here to tell you, that’s probably not God’s perspective. When I think the hours of writing may be in vain, I’m reminded that God has another plan.

My son, now twenty-six, is a writer. I may not believe I’ve achieved success, but he disagrees. “You’ve told me my whole life that I can be whatever I want,” he said. “You wanted to be a teacher, and you were. You want to be a writer, and you are. That proves that what you say is true. If you can do it, so can I.”

My hope and prayer is that my son is watching more than my dogged persistence through college and two careers – successful or not. This is a young man who once loved Jesus with all his heart and through circumstances beyond his control, lost his faith. He’s watching. He sees my steadfast love for the Lord every bit as much as he sees my steadfast pursuit of my calling. It just might be this is the avenue that will bring him back into the arms of Jesus. What can be more important than that?

We cannot know how God intends to use the gifts He’s given us. We want worldly success, but He’s more concerned with eternal salvation. Persist in your writing and persist in your faith. Shine His light in whatever you do, because whether you’re aware of it or not, someone’s watching.

Jennifer SienesJennifer Sienes has a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education. She was a 2013 Genesis Semi-Finalist and a 2014 Genesis winner. She has three short stories published in Inspire Faith and another short story, A God-Colored Lens in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury. She is represented by Karen Ball of the Steve Laube Literary Agency. Connect with her at www.jennifersienes.com, Facebook and Twitter (@Jennifer_Sienes).

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