When I was in elementary school I probably believed almost all teachers were mean. My definition of mean came from the belief anytime they made me do something they were indeed being mean.
By the time I reached college I began to understand most teachers were not necessarily mean. There were teachers who enjoyed their role as an educator. My faith in teachers was renewed.
Now, after 30 years of hearing the stories of hundreds, maybe thousands of youth, including my own three children (two of whom are in college and one still in high school) I have come to realize the sad impact of mean teachers. They may be a minority but they are frequently effective in discouraging students and athletes full of hope and potential.
Let’s not limit it to teachers. I have encountered mean coaches, parents, leaders and yes, even youth pastors. I believe people who lead, coach, educate and pastor need to challenge students. We may not always be perceived as nice. It would not be healthy for any of these groups to perform their roles just to keep everybody happy but when it becomes evident they no longer make it a priority to see students love learning and succeed then it is time to take a long vacation, retire or resign.
If I had the time and money I would write a book. I would love to do a study across many different high schools in the United States to somehow measure the destructive impact mean mentors are having in the lives of our youth and begin a proposal for how to overcome our current system which is failing to remove those who exhibit little to no desire to be excellent.
I thank God every day for those who do love youth and genuinely want to be a positive influence in their lives. How great is our God whose love and light wins the day against hate and darkness.