In my first year of teaching, I was rereading the Parable of the Sower while preparing for a lesson on the parables. In the story, Jesus explains how a farmer was spreading seeds in a field. Most of the seeds, representing the Gospel, failed to take root in one way or another, either from falling on rocky ground, getting eaten by birds, or by being choked by weeds. Some of the seeds, however, fell on fertile ground, yielding fruits above and beyond what was expected.
I was shocked at how much more sense this story made on the other side of the desk. Teaching thus far had been a humbling lesson in how much one person can control. While I could fine-tune my lesson plans ad infinitum and provide never-ending formative feedback, there was no way that I could fully control how well my own messages would be received by my students. Jesus reminds us that expecting a 100% shooting percentage is unrealistic, even for him, but that does not mean that we should stop trying. On the contrary, we can teach and spread our messages with confidence, knowing that some of it will bear fruit, and that we will be there if more students want to truly listen.
This line of thought always brings me back to one of my favorite prayers, the Serenity Prayer from Reinhold Niebuhr:
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.