Table of Contents
The way in which we must reprove and correct the faults of those whom we are guiding
204.1 First Point
Have you up to the present paid attention so that you correct your disciples only with God in view? Have you not corrected them
with exaggerated zeal, perhaps with impatience and in anger? Was that to help them change their conduct, or was it not rather to punish them for some annoyance they caused you? Has charity guided you in this behavior, or have you acted instead to vent your bad humor on them?
With these words De La Salle sets out the attitude and spirituality of discipline. It is first and foremost to help a student to achieve living a way of life that causes them to be better in following the Lord Jesus. For if one has this attitude, and is deeply prayerful and reflective, then the student will learn the right habits and attitudes.
And yet, how easy is it to let the students get the best of us. How easy is it to get angry, frustrated, and not to think of God in the moment of discipline. How easy is it to lose sight that teaching and working in a Lasallian school is first and foremost a ministry, and that the primary concern is the salvation of students.
If we could think this way all of the time, how different would our teaching be? In what ways would our attitude change if we were always about discerning what it is that God wants at any given moment? Because for De La Salle, the stress on teaching and working in a Lasallian school is to see that in every way, the first responsibility of the educator is to see themselves as an educator concerned with the salvation of their students.
And this means in good times and in not so good times we must keep focus on what God wants, on the love of God for us and for our students. For even Jesus was not able to convince everyone of the importance of the gift of salvation. But in a very real way, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, the disciples of Jesus represented that the same active power of the Holy Spirit could be active in the brothers, and in the Lasallian educators today.
204.2 The Second Point
Patience and Moderation. Using the admonition Saint Paul gave to Timothy, De La Salle encourages the brothers to act in the same way, always hoping for repentance. The goal of the teacher who must correct the student is always about repentance for wrong action so as to be better able to accept salvation.
And if there is any strong emotion, better to wait than to cause harmful actions detrimental to salvation. For even in the moderation of strong emotion there can be a lesson for the offending student. In fact, says De La Salle, the punishment given in anger could be destructive, not only for the student, but also for the brother. How powerful is it when a teacher, in an authentic way, can apologize to a student when the teacher commits bad actions? Strong emotions can be the cause for us to be out of control. But in a very insightful way, Saint John Baptist De La Salle notes that remembering the role is to teach, not to harm, the Lasallian educator must always be in control of themselves first, then their students.
204.3 The Third Point
In this third point of the meditation, Saint John Baptist de la Salle uses the story of the prophet Nathan and David as an example as to how good discipline works. David was able to see his wrong actions in the parable Nathan told, and when Nathan firmly yet loving confronted David, David was able to admit his sin and to seek repentance.
When a Lasallian educator uses charity and the zeal for the eternal salvation of the student as a goal, then the discipline administered will lead to conversion. Remember, above all else, Saint John Baptist de la Salle was concerned with the salvation of the students. The subjects learned served as a way to keep them from wandering aimlessly, providing them skills to gain employment, but all to the goal of accepting the gift of salvation. And for Lasallians today, the goal is no different.
Questions to Ponder
If we could think this way all of the time, how different would our teaching be?
In what ways would our attitude change if we were always about discerning what it is that God wants at any given moment?
Have there been any times where you felt the need to apologize to your students or a particular student?
What discipline practices do you use that help students to better achieve salvation? How do you believe they accomplish this?