If you’re involved in a placement this year, I’m sure you’ll agree it can be quite all consuming. It’s like you eat, sleep and breathe teaching. If it’s going well you feel confident, happy, and very tired. If it’s going badly you feel dejected, worthless, and even more tired!
Placements can take over our minds and feel a bit like going into a black hole where normal university life is something that only happens to other people.
I want to give you a few key things to hold onto when you’re in the depths of placement. Because, as hard as it feels to believe it sometimes, even in placement our identity rests in Jesus alone.
Here are a few verses from Ephesians 2,
‘As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our fleshand following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.’ (verses 1-4)
See the beginning of verse 4: because of his great love for us! This is the first point we need to acknowledge about our identity in Christ. When we go into placement, when we struggle with rejection from classes or disapproval from teachers, we can rest in the knowledge that the God of the universe loves us. Instead of being disliked or rejected we are greatly loved.
‘And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.’ (verses 5-9)
Let’s carry on from this and look at verse 8 and 9 - it is by grace you have been saved, this is a gift from God, not by works, so that no one can boast. This is the complete opposite of a placement grading system! On placement we often feel like we’re judged at every turn, and that we’re always trying to prove ourselves.
This is a reminder that it is God’s choice to redeem you, to change you from an object of wrath, to make you alive when you were previously dead in sin. And this is not based on how well we do, nor on if we are great Christians or great teachers.
It is because of his grace. And so if we think he’s going to drop us because we do badly, or because we don’t live as the Christian we want to be, we can think again.
God has saved us because of his great love, not because of anything we’ve done or not done. We can’t work hard enough to make our identity in Christ any better. We can’t screw up enough to make our identity in Christ any worse! We have been saved by GRACE, it is a gift, and therefore we can’t change it, we can only accept it.
'We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do' (verse 10)
You are God’s workmanship. Made by God.
And he has created you to do good works which he has prepared in advance for you to do.
This means that God will use you in your placement. God has prepared people for you to speak to, lives for you to affect, situations for you to improve.
And this is true whether you’re an outstanding teacher, or whether you require improvement, or whether you’re frankly poor! You should work hard in your placement, because we work at everything as if working for the Lord and not for men. But, how well you do will not define you in God’s eyes and it will not define whether he can use you or not.
Every day you go into your placement is an opportunity to serve the Lord. Whether you’re tempted to feel like the best teacher known to man, or to think you’re the worst of the worst, don’t forget who you are in Christ is unchanging. You are his workmanship, created in advance to do good works.
Our identity in Christ reminds us that we are loved by God, that we are saved by his grace, not by his works, and that God will use in our placements. When God looks at you, he doesn’t see a score, he doesn’t see a grade, he sees his dearly loved child.