By now, we thought it would be in our rearview mirror. A year and a half sounds like adequate time for a global pandemic. A new school year, a fresh start, a clean slate… call it what you want, we were ready to move on.
Enter the Delta variant and a great, big reminder of a truth you’d think we would all be adjusting to by now: we are not in charge. God calls the shots with regard to COVID-19, and He clearly has more to teach us before we start referring to this pandemic in the past tense.
COVID-19 angst varies greatly depending on when and where you’re reading this. I’m writing from Central California in late August 2021, and to say that people are frustrated is putting it mildly. I receive letters—some signed, some anonymous—regarding mask policies. My email box is regularly populated by “scientific evidence” supporting every argument under the sun. I talk with countless parents, half of whom are incredulous that our policies are too strict while the other half are concerned that we don’t take health and safety seriously enough.
So how do we as Christian school leaders move forward while feeling as if we’re stuck or, even worse, going backward? What does it look like to forge ahead with optimism amid headlines confirming our fears rather than calming them?
Below are some rays of hope I’ve witnessed personally this back to school season. Every region, school, and leader is different, but I share them with the prayerful expectation that at least one will resonate with you and bring the encouragement we all seek right now:
Kindness shines brighter than ever. That statement could sound trite, but my personal experience proves it true daily in our current climate. Proverbs 12:25 reminds us, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Circumstances around us are ripe for worry and fear; a kind word or deed stands in stark contrast to those emotions and provides a lifeline many don’t even know they need. Our ability to lead with kindness and graciousness has never carried such power.
Physical presence means the world. Energy crackles through our campus each morning as students arrive and the volume rises. God created us as social beings and gives us the physical presence of others as a gift. Throughout the New Testament epistles, Paul, John, and others speak to their desire not just to correspond via written word, but to be present with those to whom they write (Romans 1:11, II John 12, III John 13-14). They recognized the value of face-to-face interaction in ministry. We see it now, too, and treasure the opportunity to simply be with our school families in new and deeper ways.
Realizing we’re not in control is not a bad thing. Paul’s reminder to the church at Colosse applies today as much as it did in the first century. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). Rather than fear and panic, God calls us to peace and rest in the understanding that He is in control—not us. As Christian school leaders, we bring this truth to bear in the lives of our faculty, staff, students, and parents when we model calm and confidence not in ourselves, but in God and His power over all things – including but not limited to global pandemics.