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.