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Seeking First To Understand
Episode 3111th June 2021 • The Catholic Teacher Podcast • Jonathan Doyle
00:00:00 00:09:40

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Jesus had an incredible ability to cut through to the very essence of human experience. In today's episode I want to talk about how one of his most important sayings relates to a way we can improve our daily interactions with all our students, colleagues and parents. I also share a great quote you wont want to miss from Adrienne Vin Speyr.

Transcripts

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Well, Hey everybody, Jonathan Doyle with you.

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Once again, welcome aboard to the Catholic teacher daily podcast.

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Really great to have the pleasure of your company.

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Hope you're doing well.

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Wherever you're listening.

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I really enjoy doing these lately.

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And I just hope that, uh, there is some encouragement here for you.

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A little bit of inspiration.

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We never know how God's going to show up on any particular day and just give us

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a little bit of a nudge when we need it.

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Now, today, I want to share with you a great quote.

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From the author, Adrian Von Speyer, that's a challenging one

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to pronounce, but there we go.

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Adrian Von Spire.

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This one really jumped out at me and I'm going to give this

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a scriptural basis as well.

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I hope it's a blessing to you.

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It's very simple.

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She says this the first step in learning to love others.

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Is the attempt.

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To understand them.

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The first step in learning to love others is the attempt to understand them.

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Now I want to put this in the context of our difficult students.

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I mean, as teachers, we don't have any problem loving those students

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that are just easy to love.

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They're just engaging and polite.

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And my oldest daughter's like that.

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She's um, she just loves to learn.

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She's incredibly respectful and well behaved.

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She's just beautiful.

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So she's the kind of student that if she sits in your class, if you had like

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20 or 25 of those sort of students, you'd be like, how good is this?

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I love every single day of teaching.

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But of course we don't get 25 or 30 of those kinds of students and

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we definitely don't get a whole staff room or faculty lounge.

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Full of people that are always instantly able to love.

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Sure.

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We all know those people.

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I think of a priest who was here for dinner the other night.

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He's one of God's really special people.

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He's just.

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The most.

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Um, humble, relaxed, joyful, simplistic person.

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Everybody loves them.

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But what we want to be able to do is what do we do with those people

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that are hard to love those students, those colleagues, those parents.

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So this is the great quote from Von Speyer, who says that the first

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step in learning to love notice.

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There's the implication there that this is something we learn.

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We don't instantly do it.

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It's not like jumping on a bicycle, you know, like, oh, sorry.

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It's a lot like jumping on a bicycle.

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It's something that we learn.

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We didn't all get on a bicycle.

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Just absolutely nail it.

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The first time I can remember teaching my kids to ride and just

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how long it took to to slowly get them confident and comfortable.

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So the ability to love people.

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Is something that we learn and get better at as we go through life.

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Karen and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary recently, and I'd like to

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think that we've had plenty of practice and plenty of ups and downs and failures.

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But we've learned this process of loving over time.

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So firstly, we need to give ourselves some grace and cut ourselves some slack

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that the difficult people in our Catholic schools are difficult and challenging

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students, parents and colleagues.

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We're on a journey here of slowly learning to love them

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through the gift of daily grace.

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But what VIN Spire Von Speyer is getting at here is this, this, the crucial

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ingredient of seeking to understand them.

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Remember that great.

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Line from St.

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Francis of Assisi.

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You know, divine master that I would seek to under, to.

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You know, to understand more than to be understood.

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So, what we want to do here is when we find people difficult to love,

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let's ask for the grace of this first step of understanding them.

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Usually there's some kind of difficulty or abrasiveness or recalcitrance

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in a person it's often because of something that's happened to them or

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is currently happening in their life.

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They've learned a certain way of being they've been hurt or

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rejected, or they don't feel loved.

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And so.

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That first step of asking ourselves the question what's going on for this person.

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Why are they manifesting this behavior?

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Remember that Aristotle was really big on this, you know, the, uh,

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it's the first line of book, eight of Aristotle's Nicomachean ethics.

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I always memorize this because he said that.

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You know, all human action.

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Is action towards the good all human action is aiming at

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something it's got this teleology.

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We call it.

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It's got this.

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Desire to bring about some things.

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So when a student is difficult, Or a colleague is, you know,

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dismissive or abrasive.

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There's a reason behind it.

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Now, crucially, this does not mean we accept abusive or inappropriate behavior.

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Of course we don't.

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One of the most crucial things about learning is creating a learning

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environment that's stable and safe.

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So I'm not saying that any of us should put up with.

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Really difficult behaviors, but I think rather than seeing it as a

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turf war between us and a student or between us and a colleague, Takes

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a lot of grace and maturity to go.

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What is happening here.

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Who is this person?

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Why are they doing this?

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And then prayerfully doing this right.

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Asking the Lord to give us the grace as we go through our relationship

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and our daily interactions with them.

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Lord, what is going on here?

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Give me your heart for this person.

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Show me what I need to know about them.

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Help me understand them.

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And I guess over time we can just be direct and ask direct questions.

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Like, why are you doing this?

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Why are you behaving this way?

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So.

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I wanted to give this a scriptural basis and the simplest way to do it

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is to go straight to the golden rule.

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Matthew chapter seven, verse 12.

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Jesus says to us.

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So in everything do to others, what you would have them do to you?

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For this sums up the law and the profits.

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Friends, we could spend a day on this, like for Jesus to say this

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sums up the law and the prophets.

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Now what's the law.

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You know, the, the, the Mishnah, the mosaic law that the Pharisees, for

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example, operating under head close to 620 provisions, there was roughly

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300 dues and roughly 300 don'ts.

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So, you know, Oh really devout Hebrews at the time of Jesus would

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be going around trying to make sure that they lived up to the 600

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prohibitions or 600, uh, expectations.

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And of course, then you've got the entire prophetic tradition.

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So what's Jesus saying here, it's radical.

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He's saying you want to understand all of these 600 laws.

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You want to understand the entire profits.

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Let me sum it up for you in a, in a phrase, in a sentence.

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Just due to other people, exactly what you want them to do to you.

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So let's link this back to Von Spire, which is what understanding, what

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do we want people to do for us?

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You never had a day where you're over tired or cranky or stressed.

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And, you know, everything's going wrong.

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What do we crave from people?

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You know, we crave for them to cut us some slack.

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They, we pray that somebody is going to see through the difficult circumstance.

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And be patient and gentle with us.

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You know, after my kids are still pretty young and.

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I think I've told this story recently where it had been raining and,

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uh, my youngest daughter was in the car and she started screaming.

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And I turned around, there's this massive spider.

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So for my American listeners here in Australia, it's just yellow.

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Just don't go outside and you'll be fine in Australia.

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Just never leave indoors.

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Um, cause this thing was, you know, half the size of Texas and it was on her leg.

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And she lost it and I whacked the spider.

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I got rid of that and I grabbed her and brought her into the front seat

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of the car and just held onto her.

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And calmed her and you know, I'm no super perfect parent, but I

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know psychologists say that as a child, if you have experiences.

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Have a strong, grounded, parental figure.

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Being with you in a traumatic experience, you can, you know, often bypass

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a lot of the suffering and trauma that can happen in, in childhood.

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And what is that?

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It's a, it's an aspect of understanding.

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It's like she goes through this horrible experience, but she's understood.

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She's held in that.

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And I wonder if in behavior management we could begin to say, okay, how

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do I as a Catholic teacher, how do I, as a, as a Christian, how do I.

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Stay grounded.

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And seek to understand what this person needs not justifying toxic behaviors.

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But seeking first to understand.

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And that's what Stephen Covey did.

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Remember Stephen Covey's famous seven habits book.

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I mean, what was his Bob was principle number one, seek first to understand.

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All right.

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I hope that's going to be useful as you go into your day, as you

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deal with difficult colleagues as you deal with difficult students.

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Lord, give me a heart of understanding.

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Remember what Solomon prayed for?

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Give me wisdom, give me wisdom to lead these people.

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Lord, you know, what's the prayer that we need to have as Catholic educators.

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Lord, give me wisdom.

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Give me groundedness and patience and love.

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So that I can be who you need me to be, and I can understand this

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person and then I can love them.

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All right.

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Hope that's useful.

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Please make sure you've subscribed.

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Hit subscribe, wherever you're listening.

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Grab the link wherever you're hearing this, throw it on your Twitter feed,

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throw it on Facebook and say, Hey.

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Have a listen to this, email, this to a few other teachers in your school,

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because that would be a great blessing.

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And finally, if you like what you're hearing, uh, please come and

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support me on Patrion, patrion.com.

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Do a search Jonathan Doyle.

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You're going to find me there and there'll be links of course,

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on these emails that you get.

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I'd love it.

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If you could offer some support there so I can keep doing this day after day.

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God bless you everybody get out there seek understanding ask the lord for the

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grace for an understanding heart and let's press on one more day as catholic

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teachers god bless everybody this has been the catholic teacher daily podcast

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my name's jonathan doyle and i'm going to have another message for you tomorrow

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