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Someone confessed to me the other day that they wake up everyday with the same question – I wonder what’s going to go wrong today? I checked myself and realized that I am doing that much more often than I ever have. I mean, I have Choose Joy on post-its or plaques in every room of my house and in my office. I am used to reminding myself to find the joy in the junk, but it has been much more of a challenge these days.

Distractions, defined as things that prevent someone from giving full attention to something else. are getting in our way. We leaders are driven personalities that are largely type A, get in done, be perfect, know the answers and have it all planned. Distractions take time, sap our energy, and interrupt the flow of the day, making us less efficient than we want to be. Yes, we have learned to expect the unexpected, but there is a certain new sense of disjointedness in the days. Or am I the only one?

As leaders, we expect interruptions throughout our day. Most days do not go perfectly per plan, and we adjust as needed. I suggest, however, that interruptions are different from distractions. Interruptions are generally temporary, but distractions can linger. Some distractions that I currently experience are:

  • Health and safety concerns for students and staff
  • Health concerns of personal family members, including aging parents
  • Financial concerns related to families in crisis
  • Financial concerns related to unmet enrollment numbers
  • Figuring out how to rebuild community both in person and virtually
  • Random health department visits that can come at anytime

These are some of mine, but I bet that you have your own list. I know that a number of administrators, teachers and staff with whom I’ve spoken have this same phenomenon going on as well. Take a moment and think of your distractions. 

Right now, give yourself permission to be distracted. Not for an extended period of time, but allow yourself to be okay with those distractable moments.

I think of Jesus walking through a crowd and stopping suddenly. Beginning in Mark 5:30 we read:  

He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

At this point in his ministry, Jesus and the disciples were traveling by land and sea to minister to people. They were on a mission, yet the slightest touch distracted Jesus immediately. He stopped and responded. He took the time to look that woman in the eye and meet her need. I don’t imagine she left his mind. That story is part of Mark’s gospel, God’s inspired words.

Let’s not lose sight of the importance of those distractions because behind them, we often find people. Now more than ever, we must breathe life into people and forget the schedule. As leaders, we can never be too busy for people. As Christ followers, it is God’s people who we serve through his strength.

So, instead of that initial question of the day, try reframing it. Personally, I’m trying by asking, “How is God going to surprise me today?” I always love a good surprise.

Author Jenn Thompson

Jennifer Thompson has served in Christian education for almost twenty-five years in various roles from basketball coach to science teacher, elementary principal to head of school at schools in both Florida and California. A native of Vermont, Jenn has an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Wheaton College and a master’s in science in Educational Leadership from Florida International University. She completed the Fellows program at the Van Lunen Center for Executive Management in Christian Schools at Calvin University and currently serves on the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) board. Jenn is the chief executive officer of Christian Schools International.

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