My career as a student of psychology began when I took a high school class in psychology at my Christian boarding school from our campus pastor and his wife. Psychology to me has never been separated from Christ even in secular institutions where I did my graduate work and work currently. The Bible to me is about the lives of flawed people who serve a perfect God. As a school psychologist, my career has been an expression of the power of Jesus. I am strange in this way and have experienced alienation, loneliness, and at times acted out like like Jonah running from places God has sent me. Not because I have not had successes in my career but because I have been impatient at times, so much so it has led to depression, fear, and just a lot of psychological and even pain. However, like Paul and Daniel every suffering I have endured has been for the glory of God. I share these humble ideas as my testimony to students at Christian universities where school psychology is taught and I hope to encourage my colleagues who follow Christ. Whatever I get right is of God and the rest is my mess. I hope these verses encourage you in your career and that you can heal people as God has called you to do in your role as a school psychologist.
In regards to the politics of public education, 1 John 4:18-21 has given me great comfort. You may have to read this verse twice to understand it as it relates to your experience. The writer says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also (KJV)".
When I think about my challenges in my collegiate career and graduate school I remember that God can give me my words as God did the apostles in Acts 4:13,14. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it" (KJV). After attending an small Christian college for my undergraduate work, at first I felt intimidated but after having a few of those experiences where people marveled at words I said and I wondered where they came from, I knew despite academic limitations any successes I had were because of Jesus.
For those who specialize in working with achievement gap, cross cultural work erc. Take a look at the work of Phillip in Acts 8. This story truly inspires me as an African minded Christian and a school psychologist dedicated to eliminating the achievement gap. Healing is occurring by unlearned men yet the learned men want to pay for what they do not understand in this chapter. Phillip was filled with the Spirit and taken to the Ethiopian Treasurer at God's command and power. This meeting saved Christianity itself. Phillip conducted a cross-cultural assessment and intervention that lead to the smashing of an achievement gap as it related to Biblical knowledge. It is no coincidence that Ethiopia has NEVER been conquered. There are many more examples, such as Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-42, where Jesus provides her psychological healing, which in turn heals her whole village. Also, the story in three Gospels of Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:9, and Luke 8:30 were Jesus frees a man of mental illness brought on by a legion of demons. However, you get the point that Jesus to me is one amazing psychological healer.
Acts 16:16-40 keeps me ever mindful that tests kits are not to be revered over the real healing power of God. The KJV says, "And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
I apply this verse by understanding at there are testing companies, advocates, and quacks that walk behind good healing theorist and practitioners, then try to hone in on the money to be made in peddling false hopes. Divination via test scores or a panacea type book to make money off people's misery is just as evil. Know that if you call them out for divination they may try to take your license, credentials, and talk bad about you so bad you can't work again. Remember that in Acts 16 Paul and Silas expressed the joy in jail by continuing to sing and praise God and in the process the converted even their jailers and they walked right out of that jail, so what have I to fear? Do not walk in fear as a follower of Jesus and remember your greatest evidence is a changed life, as was given earlier, "And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it (Acts 4:14b).
John 11:1-46 is a great reminder of God's healing power. Remember Jesus gets the word about his beloved friend Lazarus who's sickness is "not unto death" according to Jesus, yet the people are looking at a dead Lazarus (e.g. The parents are given a diagnosis but the Word from the Lord tells them something else). What do you do when the research does not match with what you know about the best in people as told by Jesus in John 11:25? Remember this, "The words of Jesus are not descriptive but creative", as said by Dr. C. Wesley Knight. Therefore, the words of psychologists are descriptive at least, interpretive at best, but not creative. Only Jesus can create. Psychology may not be ready for this but we know Jesus is the ultimate psychologist!
Note in John 11, Jesus is grieved in His Spirit because they put the stone of their doubting in front of the one He was called to heal, so He told them to remove the stone. We have to ask God to remove the stone of doubt that the achievement gap can be closed, that disproportionality can turn into equity, that you as one school psychologist can prevent illness, promote wellness, and heal those who others thought were mentally dead.
Some one might say, "What happened to my job"? Like Lazarus coming out the grave wrapped in death clothes we may feel like we are out of sync with the world. "How can I help children when I don't have a job? Don't you read the newspaper Gamble"? Where is your faith "Christian School Psychologist"? Well beloved, like Paul and Silas, you've got to express yourself and praise God even in the worst circumstance. You can serve God by being a volunteer, making a video to share your knowledge, helping your family, going back to school, but express that gift God gave you!
Again, I hope this note encourages you and let Jesus lead you in your career. You receive this from me not as the President of the California Association of School Psychologist, not as an award winning school psychologist, not even as a proud graduate of Oakwood University, doctor of education from the University of Southern California but as a fellow Child of God. That is because I know like in Phillipians 4:13, none of the aforementioned would have been possible, especially in God's amazing grace to bring a child with poor grades and who was in and out of the principal's office fighting, to representing the interests of students and my fellow school psychologists in my beloved state of CA.
Again that is my testimony and I pray you are blessed not by me but by Jesus who made me.
Peace & Blessings,
Brandon Gamble, Ed.D.
Child of God
p.s. FB friends, please share with psychology graduate students and colleagues you know who would be inspired by the power of Jesus