Example #73 Serving through Words

What if learning Spanish were about giving, receiving and respect?

Jack taught Spanish, and regularly used an activity in which the class planned a simulated holiday to Spain. Although he did not want to change the activity, Jack wanted the students to think more about what sort of tourists they would be. He wanted them to think about giving as well as receiving as tourists and how they could serve others, even on holiday.

"I kept the first part of the lesson the same. The students decided on their holiday and activities and worked out what words and phrases they would need to negotiate the activities. They role-played the different situations, for example, language for the hotel, language for the restaurant. As far as possible, they researched this themselves and drew on each other’s language knowledge, listing any gaps and how they could fill them.
"I went on to ask the students what language they would need in order to give to the country they would be visiting and how they would show respect. This part of the lesson was about learning the language of manners, helping, encouraging, giving and serving; language such as ‘sorry’, ‘can I help you?’, ‘I apologise’, or 'thank you for helping me'. These situations were also role-played."

What’s going on here?

Jack saw learning Spanish as a way of helping students to love their neighbour and experience giving and receiving.

He engaged his students in a planning, researching and experiencing role-playing process that intentionally took treatment of others, seeking their good, and giving into account.

He reshaped his practice by using a key question to focus on giving, and supporting it with role-play activities and language practise that were consistent with the new focus.

How do I do this myself? (Primary) How do I do this myself? (Secondary)

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

Jesus taught that ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35). Jesus made it clear that in the Kingdom of God those who are greatest are those who serve. For Christians this attitude of service stems from a love of God and others, for Jesus said that he accepted service and giving done to others as done to himself. The New Testament talks of loving an unseen God by loving people around us.

What difference does it make?

Jack’s lesson offered students a different frame as they thought of interacting as a tourist in a new way and how they could use their language skills to seek others' good rather than just access services.

Where could we go from here?

The same kind of changes could be made to any language lesson. Teachers could think both about the language used when travelling to the target culture (e.g., is learning how to complain balanced by learning how to praise and encourage?) and about the language used in class (e.g., when talking about likes and dislikes, do pupils focus only on their own preferences or listen to those of others?).

Digging deeper

Servants were the hired hands and slaves of Jesus’ time. Jesus took the word ‘servant’ and gave it a new and radical meaning. ‘Servant’ previously described a person under the authority of others but Jesus redefined it in terms of leadership and greatness. As the ‘servant King’ he washed his disciples' feet (John 13:14-15) and expected his followers to be willing to act similarly. The Bible describes how Jesus gave up everything and came in the form of a servant to become a member of the human race (Philippians 2:5-6). Jesus said that he had not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
… the duty is now emphasized of serving God in the world, in every position in life. Abraham Kuyper
Giving is a strong motif in the Bible. God loved the world so much he gave his only son (John 3:16). Our giving is in response to God’s giving to us. Giving and receiving are essential parts of Christian community life. The Bible describes this as ‘sowing’: putting time, love, skill, effort, money into others. In turn people ‘reap’ what they ‘sow’. It is not a rigid equation, but those who sow love are more likely to reap it (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
One of the principal rules of religion is, to lose no occasion of serving God. And, since he is invisible to our eyes, we are to serve him in our neighbour; which he receives as if done to himself in person, standing visibly before us. John Wesley
Respect in biblical Hebrew is ‘to bow down’. Respect and honour were shown by a physical position. We may not have the elaborate courtesies of some cultures but we can still explore with students how we show respect today.

Explore similar examples:

What if the choice of words in a language class taught care?
What if Primary French were about welcoming a new member of the class?
What if Primary football taught about fairness and respect?
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1When the riot was over, Paul sent for the followers and encouraged them. He then said goodbye to them and left for Macedonia. 2As he travelled from place to place, he encouraged the followers with many messages. Finally, he went to Greece 3and stayed there for three months. Paul was about to sail to Syria. But some of the Jewish leaders plotted against him, so he decided to return by way of Macedonia. 4With him were Sopater, son of Pyrrhus from Berea, and Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica. Gaius from Derbe was also with him, and so were Timothy and the two Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5They went on ahead to Troas and waited for us there. 6After the Festival of Thin Bread, we sailed from Philippi. Five days later we met them in Troas and stayed there for a week. Paul's last visit to Troas 7On the first day of the week we met to break bread together. Paul spoke to the people until midnight because he was leaving the next morning. 8In the upstairs room where we were meeting, there were a lot of lamps. 9A young man called Eutychus was sitting on a window sill. While Paul was speaking, the young man got very sleepy. Finally, he went to sleep and fell three floors all the way down to the ground. When they picked him up, he was dead. 10Paul went down and bent over Eutychus. He took him in his arms and said, Don't worry! He's alive. 11After Paul had gone back upstairs, he broke bread, and ate with us. He then spoke until dawn and left. 12Then the followers took the young man home alive and were very happy. The voyage from Troas to Miletus 13Paul decided to travel by land to Assos. The rest of us went on ahead by ship, and we were to take him aboard there. 14When he met us in Assos, he came aboard, and we sailed on to Mitylene. 15The next day we came to a place near Chios, and the following day we reached Samos. The day after that we sailed to Miletus. 16Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, because he did not want to spend too much time in Asia. He was in a hurry and wanted to be in Jerusalem in time for Pentecost. Paul says goodbye to the church leaders of Ephesus 17From Miletus, Paul sent a message for the church leaders at Ephesus to come and meet with him. 18When they got there, he said: You know everything I did during the time I was with you when I first came to Asia. 19Some of the Jews plotted against me and caused me a lot of sorrow and trouble. But I served the Lord and was humble. 20When I preached in public or taught in your homes, I didn't hold back from telling anything that would help you. 21I told Jews and Gentiles to turn to God and have faith in our Lord Jesus. 22I don't know what will happen to me in Jerusalem, but I must obey God's Spirit and go there. 23In every city I visit, I am told by the Holy Spirit that I will be put in jail and will be in trouble in Jerusalem. 24But I don't care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And that work is to tell the good news about God's great kindness. 25I have gone from place to place, preaching to you about God's kingdom, but now I know that none of you will ever see me again. 26I tell you today that I am no longer responsible for any of you! 27I have told you everything God wants you to know. 28Look after yourselves and everyone the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be like shepherds to God's church. It is the flock that he bought with the blood of his own Son. 29I know that after I am gone, others will come like fierce wolves to attack you. 30Some of your own people will tell lies to win over the Lord's followers. 31Be on your guard! Remember how day and night for three years I kept warning you with tears in my eyes. 32I now place you in God's care. Remember the message about his great kindness! This message can help you and give you what belongs to you as God's people. 33I have never wanted anyone's money or clothes. 34You know how I have worked with my own hands to make a living for myself and my friends. 35By everything I did, I showed how you should work to help everyone who is weak. Remember that our Lord Jesus said, More blessings come from giving than from receiving. 36After Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37Everyone cried and hugged and kissed him. 38They were especially sad because Paul had told them, You will never see me again. Then they went with him to the ship. Paul goes to Jerusalem
1It was before Passover, and Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and to return to the Father. He had always loved his followers in this world, and he loved them to the very end. 2Even before the evening meal started, the devil had made Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, decide to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that he had come from God and would go back to God. He also knew that the Father had given him complete power. 4So during the meal Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5He put some water into a large bowl. Then he began washing his disciples' feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing. 6But when he came to Simon Peter, that disciple asked, Lord, are you going to wash my feet? 7Jesus answered, You don't really know what I am doing, but later you will understand. 8You will never wash my feet! Peter replied. If I don't wash you, Jesus told him, you don't really belong to me. 9Peter said, Lord, don't wash just my feet. Wash my hands and my head. 10Jesus answered, People who have bathed and are clean all over need to wash just their feet. And you, my disciples, are clean, except for one of you. 11Jesus knew who would betray him. That is why he said, except for one of you. 12After Jesus had washed his disciples' feet and had put his outer garment back on, he sat down again. Then he said: Do you understand what I have done? 13You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. 14And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. 15I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. 16I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. 17You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them. 18I am not talking about all of you. I know the ones I have chosen. But what the Scriptures say must come true. And they say, The man who ate with me has turned against me! 19I am telling you this before it all happens. Then when it does happen, you will believe who I am. 20I tell you for certain that anyone who welcomes my messengers also welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Jesus tells what will happen to him (Matthew 26.20-25; Mark 14.17-21; Luke 22.21-23) 21After Jesus had said these things, he was deeply troubled and told his disciples, I tell you for certain that one of you will betray me. 22They were confused about what he meant. And they just stared at each other. 23Jesus' favourite disciple was sitting next to him at the meal, 24and Simon motioned for that disciple to find out which one Jesus meant. 25So the disciple leaned towards Jesus and asked, Lord, which one of us are you talking about? 26Jesus answered, I will dip this piece of bread in the sauce and give it to the one I was talking about. Then Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27At once Satan took control of Judas. Jesus said, Judas, go quickly and do what you have to do. 28No one at the meal understood what Jesus meant. 29But because Judas was in charge of the money, some of them thought that Jesus had told him to buy something they needed for the festival. Others thought that Jesus had told him to give some money to the poor. 30Judas took the piece of bread and went out. It was already night. The new command 31After Judas had gone, Jesus said: Now the Son of Man will be given glory, and he will bring glory to God. 32Then, after God is given glory because of him, God will bring glory to him, and God will do it very soon. 33My children, I will be with you for a little while longer. Then you will look for me, but you won't find me. I tell you just as I told the people, You cannot go where I am going. 34But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. 35If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples. Peter's promise (Matthew 26.31-35; Mark 14.27-31; Luke 22.31-34) 36Simon Peter asked, Lord, where are you going? Jesus answered, You can't go with me now, but later on you will. 37Peter asked, Lord, why can't I go with you now? I would die for you! 38Would you really die for me? Jesus asked. I tell you for certain that before a cock crows, you will say three times that you don't even know me. Jesus is the way to the Father
1Christ encourages you, and his love comforts you. God's Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. 2Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. 3Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. 4Care about them as much as you care about yourselves 5and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: 6Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. 7Instead he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us. 8Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. 9Then God gave Christ the highest place and honoured his name above all others. 10So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. 11And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, Jesus Christ is Lord! Lights in the world 12My dear friends, you always obeyed when I was with you. Now that I am away, you should obey even more. So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved. 13God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him. 14Do everything without grumbling or arguing. 15Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world, 16as you hold firmly to the message that gives life. Then on the day when Christ returns, I can take pride in you. I can also know that my work and efforts were not useless. 17Your faith in the Lord and your service are like a sacrifice offered to him. And my own blood may have to be poured out with the sacrifice. If this happens, I will be glad and rejoice with you. 18In the same way, you should be glad and rejoice with me. Timothy and Epaphroditus 19I want to be encouraged by news about you. So I hope the Lord Jesus will soon let me send Timothy to you. 20I don't have anyone else who cares about you as much as he does. 21The others think only about what interests them and not about what concerns Christ Jesus. 22But you know what kind of person Timothy is. He has worked with me like a son in spreading the good news. 23I hope to send him to you, as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me. 24And I feel sure that the Lord will also let me come soon. 25I think I ought to send my dear friend Epaphroditus back to you. He is a follower and a worker and a soldier of the Lord, just as I am. You sent him to look after me, 26but now he is eager to see you. He is worried, because you heard he was sick. 27In fact, he was very sick and almost died. But God was kind to him, and also to me, and he kept me from being burdened down with sorrow. 28Now I am more eager than ever to send Epaphroditus back again. You will be glad to see him, and I won't have to worry any longer. 29Be sure to give him a cheerful welcome, just as people who serve the Lord deserve. 30He almost died working for Christ, and he risked his own life to do for me what you could not.
1After Jesus left, he went to Judea and then on to the other side of the River Jordan. Once again large crowds came to him, and as usual, he taught them. 2Some Pharisees wanted to test Jesus. So they came up to him and asked if it was right for a man to divorce his wife. 3Jesus asked them, What does the Law of Moses say about that? 4They answered, Moses allows a man to write out divorce papers and send his wife away. 5Jesus replied, Moses gave you this law because you are so heartless. 6But in the beginning God made a man and a woman. 7That's why a man leaves his father and mother and gets married. 8He becomes like one person with his wife. Then they are no longer two people, but one. 9And no one should separate a couple that God has joined together. 10When Jesus and his disciples were back in the house, they asked him about what he had said. 11He told them, A man who divorces his wife and marries someone else is unfaithful to his wife. 12A woman who divorces her husband and marries again is also unfaithful. Jesus blesses little children (Matthew 19.13-15; Luke 18.15-17) 13Some people brought their children to Jesus so that he could bless them by placing his hands on them. But his disciples told the people to stop bothering him. 14When Jesus saw this, he became angry and said, Let the children come to me! Don't try to stop them. People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God. 15I promise you that you cannot get into God's kingdom, unless you accept it the way a child does. 16Then Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them by placing his hands on them. A rich man (Matthew 19.16-30; Luke 18.18-30) 17As Jesus was walking down a road, a man ran up to him. He knelt down, and asked, Good teacher, what can I do to have eternal life? 18Jesus replied, Why do you call me good? Only God is good. 19You know the commandments. Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Do not cheat. Respect your father and mother. 20The man answered, Teacher, I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man. 21Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, There's one thing you still need to do. Go and sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me. 22When the man heard Jesus say this, he went away gloomy and sad because he was very rich. 23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, It's hard for rich people to get into God's kingdom! 24The disciples were shocked to hear this. So Jesus told them again, It's terribly hard to get into God's kingdom! 25In fact, it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into God's kingdom. 26Jesus' disciples were even more amazed. They asked each other, How can anyone ever be saved? 27Jesus looked at them and said, There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything. 28Peter replied, Remember, we left everything to be your followers! 29Jesus told him: You can be sure that anyone who gives up home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or land for me and for the good news 30will be rewarded. In this world they will be given a hundred times as many houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and pieces of land, though they will also be ill-treated. And in the world to come, they will have eternal life. 31But many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first. Jesus again tells about his death (Matthew 20.17-19; Luke 18.31-34) 32The disciples were confused as Jesus led them towards Jerusalem, and his other followers were afraid. Once again, Jesus took the twelve disciples aside and told them what was going to happen to him. He said: 33We are now on our way to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses. They will sentence him to death and hand him over to foreigners, 34who will make fun of him and spit on him. They will beat him and kill him. But three days later he will rise to life. The request of James and John (Matthew 20.20-28) 35James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and asked, Teacher, will you do us a favour? 36Jesus asked them what they wanted, 37and they answered, When you come into your glory, please let one of us sit at your right side and the other at your left. 38Jesus told them, You don't really know what you're asking! Are you able to drink from the cup that I must soon drink from or be baptized as I must be baptized? 39Yes, we are! James and John answered. Then Jesus replied, You certainly will drink from the cup from which I must drink. And you will be baptized just as I must! 40But it isn't for me to say who will sit at my right side and at my left. That is for God to decide. 41When the ten other disciples heard this, they were angry with James and John. 42But Jesus called the disciples together and said: You know that those foreigners who call themselves kings like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over the people they rule. 43But don't act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. 44And if you want to be first, you must be everyone's slave. 45The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people. Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus (Matthew 20.29-34; Luke 18.35-43) 46Jesus and his disciples went to Jericho. And as they were leaving, they were followed by a large crowd. A blind beggar called Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting beside the road. 47When he heard that it was Jesus from Nazareth, he shouted, Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! 48Many people told the man to stop, but he shouted even louder, Son of David, have pity on me! 49Jesus stopped and said, Call him over! They called out to the blind man and said, Don't be afraid! Come on! He is calling for you. 50The man threw off his coat as he jumped up and ran to Jesus. 51Jesus asked, What do you want me to do for you? The blind man answered, Master, I want to see! 52Jesus told him, You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith. Straight away the man could see, and he went down the road with Jesus. Jesus enters Jerusalem (Matthew 21.1-11; Luke 19.28-40; John 12.12-19)
1There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. 2One night he went to Jesus and said, Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not perform these miracles, unless God were with you. 3Jesus replied, I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God's kingdom! 4Nicodemus asked, How can a grown man ever be born a second time? 5Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that before you can get into God's kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. 6Humans give life to their children. Yet only God's Spirit can change you into a child of God. 7Don't be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. 8Only God's Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. 9How can this be? Nicodemus asked. 10Jesus replied: How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things? 11I tell you for certain that we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say. 12If you don't believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven? 13No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there. 14And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. 15Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life. 16God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. 17God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! 18No one who has faith in God's Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn't have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God's only Son. 19The light has come into the world, and people who do evil things are judged guilty because they love the dark more than the light. 20People who do evil hate the light and won't come to the light, because it clearly shows what they have done. 21But everyone who lives by the truth will come to the light, because they want others to know that God is really the one doing what they do. Jesus and John the Baptist 22Later, Jesus and his disciples went to Judea, where he stayed with them for a while and was baptizing people. 23John had not yet been put in jail. He was at Aenon near Salim, where there was a lot of water, and people were coming there for John to baptize them. 25John's followers got into an argument with a Jewish man about a ceremony of washing. 26They went to John and said, Rabbi, you spoke about a man when you were with him east of the Jordan. He is now baptizing people, and everyone is going to him. 27John replied: No one can do anything unless God in heaven allows it. 28Surely you remember how I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am only the one sent ahead of him. 29At a wedding the groom is the one who gets married. The best man is glad just to be there and to hear the groom's voice. That's why I am so glad. 30Jesus must become more important, while I become less important. The one who comes from heaven John continued: 31God's Son comes from heaven and is above all others. Everyone who comes from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all others. 32He speaks about what he has seen and heard, and yet no one believes him. 33But everyone who does believe him has shown that God is truthful. 34The Son was sent to speak God's message, and he has been given the full power of God's Spirit. 35The Father loves the Son and has given him everything. 36Everyone who has faith in the Son has eternal life. But no one who rejects him will ever share in that life, and God will be angry with them for ever.
1I don't need to write to you about the money you plan to give for God's people. 2I know how eager you are to give. And I have proudly told the Lord's followers in Macedonia that you people in Achaia have been ready for a whole year. Now your desire to give has made them want to give. 3That's why I am sending Titus and the two others to you. I want you to be ready, just as I promised. This will prove that we were not wrong to boast about you. 4Some followers from Macedonia may come with me, and I want them to find that you have the money ready. If you don't, I would be embarrassed for trusting you to do this. But you would be embarrassed even more. 5So I have decided to ask Titus and the others to spend some time with you before I arrive. This way they can arrange to collect the money you have promised. Then you will have the chance to give because you want to, and not because you feel forced to. 6Remember this saying, A few seeds make a small harvest, but a lot of seeds make a big harvest. 7Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don't feel sorry that you must give and don't feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give. 8God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others. 9The Scriptures say, God freely gives his gifts to the poor, and always does right. 10God gives seed to farmers and provides everyone with food. He will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need. 11You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift. 12What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God's people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. 13The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honour and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God's people and with everyone else. 14Now they are praying for you and want to see you, because God used you to bless them so very much. 15Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words! Paul defends his work for Christ