For over 20 years I looked at myself as a teacher. For part of that time, I tried to elevate this into a calling and called myself an educator. Occasionally I considered myself a Rabbi.

These were all mistakes.

It has taken me way too long to understand who I truly am, or should be.

I am a servant. I am in service.

My particular field of service is education. In the service of whom? My students.

Does this title change make a difference? Aren’t I doing the same work, whether I call myself a teacher, educator, rabbi, or servant? Is the name significant?

I think it is.

Recently I spilled my guts out preparing for a group. Afterwards, I heard a young participant mention that he didn’t need this at all, that he already knew everything I said. Thoughts went through my head like: “What an entitled little *%#@. I’ll show him how little he knows.”

That’s what happens when I forget who I truly am. My “teacher’s ego” was wounded. It becomes about me.

But if I am in service – then it’s just not about me. The frustration is replaced by: “OK, how can I better serve my students? What does he need from me now?”

I feel honor and joy in being an educational servant.

I feel released from the vanities of seeing myself as a teacher or rabbi.

But most important — it is clear to me that my students have vastly benefited from this change in attitude.

Before I begin to teach I recite a short blessing to help me focus: “Please God, grant me the wisdom and maturity to serve my students on their unique paths.” Amen.