Debbie Reese - August 2, 2020

How to Read Wisdom Literature

How the Bible Works

We look to books like Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes for rules to help us live more godly lives. But these books don't want to make us smarter. They want to make us more wise. The difference is in how we see the world, and how these books can be guides to us, to help us live as God's people in even the most complicated situations.

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This sermon was written and delivered by Debbie Reese

Being a high school teacher for twenty years now I have heard hundreds of times, “Oh bless you, thank you, how are you a teacher to high school crazy teenagers?”  Well, yes some days it is crazy, some days it is a piece of cake and some days it is like riding a bike, but the bike is on fire, you are on fire, everything is on fire and you still have to keep going!  That is why we have to have rules in the classroom, but I don’t like to use the word rules in my classroom.

‘Rules’ have a negative connotation.  Webster’s dictionary defines the word rules as :control of or dominion over an area or people.  The word control is right in the definition so I find this harsh or regimented.  I decided to have procedures in my classroom instead.  I teach the students at the beginning of the year how we come in the classroom, how we treat our peers, where supplies belong, how to turn in papers, how we start and end our classes. After lots of practice, modeling and correcting the students understand these procedures. 

You might be thinking, “Rules, procedures – isn’t that potato potahto?” And you’re right to a degree. But I use ‘procedures’ because I want my students to know that flexibility is an important characteristic of Mrs. Reese’ classroom. Why? 

Because I have a really cool job: I get to teach high school students that want to be teachers. And any teacher will tell you: classroom management is an essential skill teachers have to develop. I get to help my students get a head-start, learning classroom management while they’re still in the classroom, being managed. 

And that’s why flexibility is so important. My classes are all unique. The same principles won’t work from one year to the next, one class to the next. And I’m teaching kids who are going to go on to be teachers years from now, in other schools, other districts, other cities and states. Other settings. 

I could just literally teach them to be me. But that wouldn’t actually serve them very well, because none of them is me.

What Mrs. Reese does in one year may not work in the next. And what Mrs. Reese does with your class probably won’t work exactly right when you’re in a classroom of your own. 

They have to learn to be flexible. My goal isn’t to teach them to imitate Mrs. Reese. My goal is to think like teachers. So that, no matter where they go, what district, context or city they find themselves in, they can navigate the classroom, make it their own. 

I don’t teach my students what to think, so much as I teach them how to think. Not rules, but principles.

Let’s explore Wisdom Literature. If knowledge is about facts and figures – what to think, then Wisdom is about how to think. And the Bible has several collections of Wisdom Literature. These collections are the scriptures designed to shape how we think, how we see ourselves and the world. They’re procedures or norms meant to be followed,  learned and shared with others to make our world easier to live in and be examples for others.

Join us Sunday as we learn how facing the pain of grief begins the process of healing.

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