2015-05-13 - Impertinence
Some months ago, a student in one of my husband’s automotive classes behaved with impertinence, by stealing money out of another student’s backpack. As their instructor, he tried - to no avail - to get the student to own up to their indiscretion, and then move on. Teamwork is one of the values he likes to instill in the kids that have professed an interest in working in the field of auto repair. While it can be a competitive field, he first worked in an environment where there was a cohesive team of people working toward the same ultimate goal, while each had a different role in it. So it’s not so unreasonable to expect that teaching the students to be part of a team, should be a goal as a teacher of the trade. Stealing from each other is the opposite of team-building, and therefore unacceptable, so he wanted to establish this fact as detrimental to the team, by bringing the offender of trust to light. While his effort was understood by several students, the result was less than enlightening to all, and it even came to a point that he was asked to “let it go”. A parent complained that the solution agreed to by the students to rectify matters was unfair to their child, although their child was not the offender and wanted to be part of the solution. As a result, his boss ended up telling him he could not speak of the stealing incident again, that he was taking it far too personally, thus undermining his authority and ultimately ruining his chances of making his point to the class. Without using the exact words, the school system authorities had basically said: “stealing is ok, and we aren’t going to make you personally responsible for your actions”.
For me, personally, I find it offensive when someone steals also. Do you? I was raised with teaching that taking what does not belong to me is wrong, and if I do so, I will be punished. And how important is it, in a field of work that so many of the workers are not trusted, that we should teach people the value of doing what’s right - over what is beneficial to them in a single moment? Anywhere people are working, I believe an important trait to have is trustworthiness. Otherwise, we are teaching people that being impertinent (noun impertinence as defined by dictionary.com: disrespectful behaviour or language; rudeness) with authority and others around us is acceptable. We start with taking some money out of a book bag, and what might be next? I think it’s important that we take more indiscretions more personally. We live in a world in which it’s normal to be desensitized to so many behaviors, due to them being portrayed as “ok”. And being considered acceptable is reinforced by the idea there are no consequences to those actions. Some of the behaviors are stealing, lying, violence toward others, etc. The more important question I have is “why is it acceptable for mentors, teachers, leaders in business, guidance counselors and parents to not take impertinent behavior personally?” As long as we do so, we cannot be surprised by the world we have created around ourselves. And when we are expecting adults to ignore impertinent students, who do not agree that it is “ok” to permit such behavior, it should be no surprise that they get so frustrated that after a while, they end up doing something other than teaching.
God respectfully encourages us to be seekers of the truth. And when someone asks a follower of Christ to ignore the truth, then it is always going to bring about righteous indignation. It is personal. It should be personal. It’s the basis for everything.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NIV)
All scripture references are from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise noted.