The shriek of an imaginary football referee’s whistle reverberates through my mind after I chastise my forgetful student. My mental referee makes the call. “Unnecessary roughness. Fifteen yard penalty.”
I should have been gentler.
Though a football field isn’t a place to be gentle, players are penalized for unnecessary roughness. For example, this penalty might occur when a player tackles a ball carrier who is out of bounds. Excessive force is needless because the play is finished.
A person in authority may easily use unnecessary roughness when correcting subordinates. Being a teacher, I might speak harshly to students when they already know they’ve done wrong simply because I’m annoyed. The use of unnecessary roughness spotlights a lack of gentleness, patience, and humility in my attitude. Instead of a fifteen yard penalty, I need to reflect upon some key principles in God’s word.
For example, Philippians 4:5 reminds us, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Although being firm with students may be necessary, that’s not an excuse to lack gentleness. If I want students to see Christ’s love in me, my gentleness must be apparent because it makes me approachable and able to help them.
Another reminder is found in Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Students sometimes frustrate me, but remembering there are times when I aggravate them is humbling.
Unnecessary roughness is a disappointing penalty in football, but discovering it in our lives may indicate we need a change of attitude. Applying the truths in God’s word can help us exude gentleness, patience, and humility.