At the end of fall quarter at my university, I was in a meeting with another professor, and she was telling me that she was actually enjoying the time she was spending grading finals. As we were masked in this meeting, she may not have seen my look of surprise as that was not how I was experiencing the days of long hours staring at the computer trying to get through four classes of grading that quarter. Grading is not why most people go into teaching as it can be tedious and time-consuming, but it’s part of the job in working with students. She explained to me that she had just read an article called “Grading as Spiritual Discipline” by Marybeth Baggett that offered a compelling invitation to view grading through another lens. Rather than just cranking through the tasks for the end of the quarter, I could recognize that I did not need to compartmentalize my life but could see this too as a formational growth opportunity and a chance to connect with students by praying for them as I grade and give feedback.
She writes, “Every paper I receive, I now intentionally remind myself, is another opportunity for me to put my faith into practice… With each paper I turn to, I have the choice either to affirm the humanity and vocation of the student at the receiving end of my feedback or to fall back into my old mechanistic practice.”
I read this at the same time that I was also compiling the year-end reports and letters for Children of the Kingdom. It was easy to make the connection with my grading to the administrative work I do for Children of the Kingdom. This could also be a space for me to pray for God to reveal Himself and His love to the sponsors and to the students. While I still can fall back into the mechanistic practice of updating spreadsheets and receipts and managing student lists with the end goal of checking things off my list of things to do, I am grateful for this reminder that there is another way to get the job done.
May you know that as I send out the annual reports and the year-end receipts that I am thanking God every time I remember you and am praying for His blessing on you, and I am asking for God’s grace to continue to transform me through the work.
And perhaps this will help you with the next tedious task that is before you in your day whether that be dishes or grading or laundry…. May God meet you in that place and draw you near.