I’ll admit it, I’m a perfectionist. I enjoy the thrill of seeing that “A” on the top of any assignment I have submitted or assessment I have completed. And there’s this feeling of sadness that accompanies letter grades less than an “A.” Why? What makes me feel this way?
Well, sure, an “A” represents excellence and who doesn’t want to excel? But if I’m honest with myself I love receiving “A’s” because deep-down inside it gives me a sense of validation of who I am. It satisfies this need for acceptance and desire for perfection based upon my human merit. I know many of you reading this blog post can relate, and I know for certain many of my students can.
I teach over 120 of our students here at Cary Christian School. I can’t tell you how many times I have had students at my desk crying, literally in some cases, over not receiving an “A.” They despair that their life is in shambles, since their grades define where they will attend college and therefore what profession they will pursue. On the other hand, I have students who pride themselves on not studying and when they receive the latest “C” or “F,” they chuckle and chalk it up to, “Well, that’s just the type of student I am.” It’s in those moments that I have the opportunity to speak truth into their souls.
Yes, our academic grades influence our lives, but they do not define our lives. Our value does not come from any human assessment, but from the fact that we are creatures made in the image of God the Almighty, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and adopted as sons and daughters of the King! As children of the King, our responsibility is to do our best at whatever task is set before us. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Doing their best requires students to work wisely and diligently, seeking assistance when necessary. And if a student’s best work results in a “C,” then praise God! God has given each of us different talents and abilities, many of which cannot be measured academically. We should therefore encourage our students to do their best, trusting that God’s distribution of gifts and talents to them will perfectly suit God’s calling for their lives—a calling that may or may not include the particular college or profession we (as parents) or they (as students) thought best. God’s plans are far more remarkable than anything we could ever imagine!
So the next time I see a “B” on an assessment I will remind myself, that I did my best, and trust God with the rest. Encourage your student to do the same.
Mrs. Darla McDonald serves as Lead Teacher in the Rhetoric School and also as an instructor in the CCS Rhetoric School science department. She currently teaches AP Physics I and Honors Physics. Mrs. McDonald holds a B.S. in Biology (Pre-Med concentration) from the University of Maryland, College Park, an M.Ed. in Science Education from North Carolina State University, and a Master’s Certification from ACCS. She has served on the faculty of Cary Christian for the past ten years and has a total of thirteen years of experience teaching in classical Christian schools. In addition to her teaching role at CCS, Mrs. McDonald also coaches the varsity field hockey team. She and her husband, Tim, have four children, all of whom are students at CCS.