Were there hall monitors or class monitors in your elementary school? That one kid that was assigned to keep watch over the students for the teacher. Their job was to make sure that their classmates followed the rules, that we didn’t get too loud, or run in the hallways, or get up without permission or get off-task. Being that hall monitor meant that they were trusted by the teachers to behave and they were willing to be a tattletale. The hall monitor was tasked with telling on their fellow classmates for any and all of their infractions. Do you remember that feeling of dread that came with realizing that the class monitor was going to tell on you? I remember the sinking feeling in my stomach, of knowing that I would have to suffer a consequence. Some privilege would be denied, or if I had too many warnings that day, I would get the dreaded note home.
Or maybe you were that kid. In third grade I got to be the class monitor on occasion. It came with a certain feeling of power, knowing I could potentially get someone in trouble. I took my tasks seriously. I was ready to write the names on the board of any classmate that talked during quiet time.
While I understand the need for hall monitors, with the ratio of students to teacher being way too high, the problem is many of us as adults are now suffering from internalized hall monitor syndrome. We have internalized this system of judgmental and intense self-monitoring so that we can report all our infractions to God. We live with the constant fear that God will find out that we have done something wrong. We have become our own tattletales, constantly looking for the ways that we are not measuring up so that we can please God by telling on ourselves. But what if God does not want hall monitors? What if God isn’t looking for tattletales? What if God does not want us to live in the constant fear of not being good enough or holy enough or worthy enough?
One of my favorite parts of hip-hop is the hype man. That dude that repeats the best parts of the rhyme with emphasis and energy. She is committed to making sure the audience hears and appreciate the artist. His passion is contagious, and her swag is enticing. The hype man brings an element of fun and joy to the experience. What if becoming our own hype man is the antidote to internalized hall monitor syndrome? The foundation of our relationship with God need not be fear. Instead of constantly reporting our shortcomings, God wants us to celebrate our being and becoming. God wants to connect with us in joy and appreciation rather than condescension and damnation. God is calling you to acknowledge the beauty and wonder that is inherently embedded within you and in turn your daily life. It is my greatest hope that each of us will accept God’s invitation to shift from hall monitor to hype man!