Thinking that made a difference

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Good leadership is sorely needed, especially for the sake of young people.

This is not a new need. Almost a century ago, Cosmopolitan magazine published an article on the subject by the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy. She wrote that "right thinking, right feeling, and right acting - honesty, purity, unselfishness - in youth tend to success, intellectuality, and happiness in manhood."

For us to help young people along these lines, the article commended a "spiritual sense of thinking, feeling, and acting," and said, "This sense of rightness acquired by experience and wisdom, should be early presented to youth and to manhood in order to forewarn and forearm humanity" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pgs. 274, 273).

A friend of mine, an elementary school teacher, has proved the leadership power of this spiritual approach to living. Every day throughout her more than 25 years of teaching, she has relied on God to lead her thoughts, feelings, and actions, both in the classroom and outside of it. She genuinely loves her pupils. In working with them, she prays to understand clearly that, regardless of the apparent advantages or disadvantages of any child's human circumstances, he or she is God's dearly loved child. Inseparable from Him. Able and willing to feel His constant care and to recognize and follow His unfailing guidance.

When the going gets tough, as it often has, my friend is especially persistent in her prayers. A particularly difficult case about 10 years ago was that of a boy in her sixth-grade class. His behavior was out of control, his academic performance miserable. Her repeated attempts to get cooperation from his family had met with apathy and resistance. The mother herself was having mental problems and was an embarrassment to her son.

Then one day after he'd had an outburst in the classroom, his teacher took him into the hallway. He angrily told her how he was going to solve his problems: "I'm going to go home and kill my sister. Then I'm going to kill my parents. Then I'm going to kill myself."

While turning to God to lead her own thought, the teacher spoke to him for a few minutes of his worth as an individual, and of the worth of each one of his family members. She encouraged him to understand that there were constructive ways to overcome his difficulties, and that he had the ability to find and implement them.

He didn't carry out his desperate plan. His behavior, however, didn't improve, either. And a couple of weeks later he was expelled.

But that wasn't the end of his teacher's prayers on his behalf. Each morning on her way to school, she had to drive by the boy's house. As she did, she would silently say, "Behold, the child of God." She'd think of him in his true identity as God's spiritual image and likeness. And she would affirm that he was being directed rightly, by God, in all his activity. She did this for many years.

The next time she saw him, he was singing with a musical group, performing for students at her school. He was a confident, happy senior in high school, and he greeted her warmly.

Six months later, with a National Honor Society pin on his lapel, he paid her a visit. He apologized for the trouble he'd caused in her classroom. And he thanked her for caring. He said that when he was a sophomore, he woke up; he realized that no one could turn his life around but him. And, yes, even though he'd had no childhood religious training, he said he'd turned to God and couldn't have succeeded without God. After high school he joined the Marines, and is now serving in a United States embassy another country.

God knows the needs of His children. He is with us every moment. And we can count on His wisdom always to provide us with reliable leadership. As it says in the Bible, "I lead in the way of righteousness" (Prov. 8:20). The more we turn to God and let Him lead our thoughts, feelings, and actions, the more His leadership will be apparent in our lives, and in the lives of those we include in our prayers.

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