(Image courtesy of http://www.aplithelp.com.)

I have a no cell phone policy in my classroom at school.  Throughout the district, cell phone policies vary from teacher to teacher.  I choose to not allow cell phones except during specified time periods.

Most students comply with this rule with ease and understanding.  These students are aware that cell phones can be a distraction and that I do not want them distracted during instruction time.  But there are some students who view me as unfair and mean because
I do not allow them to use their phone whenever they want.  For these students, a reminder to put their phone away usually does the trick, but when it does not, they receive some form of discipline to help correct their behavior.

I've had several conversations with students over the years who view playing by my rules as unfair, unjust, and plain mean.  (Even certain parents stood behind their children's rule-breaking and pointed their fingers at me in anger.)  These students argue and fight, saying things like, "I'm not the only one.  Jimmy had his phone out too and you didn't say anything to him."  These conversations leave me bewildered, fighting back my feelings of anger toward them.  It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that I am able to control my temper when students argue back, blaming me for not following the rules rather than take responsibility for their own actions.

As I was meditating this morning on rules and rebellion against those rules, I made the following correlation and understanding:

First, I believe I will start by asking the offending student a simple question: "What are the rules?"

This states the principle in question.  It is a factual question that needs a factual answer.  Logically, facts cannot be argued.  Principles remain the same regardless of the situation.  Establishing and re-establishing the rules are necessary when dealing with wrongdoing.

In my experience, however, this question is not usually answered with facts.  Instead, it is avoided and responsibility is shifted.  The student in question will respond with an answer similar to the following: "Why are you always picking on me?  What about the other students who do the same thing?  Why aren't you talking to them?"

Following a negative response such as the one above, stating something along the lines of, "Other people doing the same thing - in this case, breaking the rules - does not make the rule any less true.  The rule is still 'no cell phones'.  They are as guilty of breaking the class rules as you are.  But I am not dealing with them right now.  I am dealing with you."

At this point, we suddenly enter into the realm of the stubbornness and persistence of the human will.  Most students will continue to fight and blame others while some will surrender and admit their wrongdoing.  Some students take longer to surrender than others.  And some never surrender and never will.  Yet their various responses still hold no power over the unchanging principle in question.

Dealing with students is perhaps the hardest aspect when it comes to teaching.  More and more parents are afraid of upsetting their children, so rather than teach them to obey the principles set in place at home at an early age, they allow their manipulative child to bend and break their own rules.  In many homes across the world, this is the common occurrence.  (Do not be alarmed that I called your child "manipulative".  All children are born into sin and will sin as a result.)

If you don't believe me, read this:
"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful when my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5).
"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.  Avoid (don't be like) such people" (2 Timothy 3:1-5). 
If you haven't caught the spiritual analogy yet, I'll explicitly make it known now: God gave humans commands to follow.  Adam and Eve were the first perpetrators and every human since has followed suit.  Most people call God unjust and unfair.  They  justify their actions by believing the lie, "Everyone else is doing it and getting away with it."  They blame others for their wrongdoing, even God.  Adam began the blaming when he said of Eve, "She gave me the fruit."  Eve followed his example and blamed the serpent.  Yet the fact remains: Adam and Eve - and all of humanity, as a result - have broken the commands of God.  Most people remain stubborn and hard-hearted, refusing to admit their wrongdoing.  Others, whom the Holy Spirit enables, surrender their lives to Jesus.
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
He justified them.  Not in their sin, but in their forgiveness.  Not through our obedience, but through Christ's.  There is no justification for blessing in sin.  Sin gives way to death.  But Jesus gives justification to the believer for blessing and communion with God in Heaven.

Reading friend: won't you surrender to Christ today?  His rules won't ever change and the judgment is coming when you must give an account of your life.  Stop blaming God and others.  Give yourself to Jesus.
"Love covers a multitude of sins" (I Peter 4:8).
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in you heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved!" (Romans 10:9).
So what am I to do with my rule-breaking students?  "Love your enemies," Jesus says, "and do good to those who persecute (mistreat) you."  Yet, I must not forget the command to "train up a child in the way they should go" (Proverbs 22:6).  Therefore, I will continue to teach the truth with love and patience, regardless of the outcome.  For I am Christ's now; therefore, I press onward into battle, boldly going where my Savior has already been.

Every follower of Christ you know today was once a sinner stained with guilt.  Thanks be to God that His blood washes us cleaner than snow!