You are likely familiar with the story of two bricklayers working on a large building. When each was asked what he was doing, one replied, “Just laying bricks.” The other said, “I am building a cathedral!” For leaders in Christian education, much of our work seems a lot like the first bricklayer’s. We may tend to focus on the means to the end, not the end itself.
It’s a matter of perspective, at least in part. Let me argue, however, that cathedral building is not simply a matter of how we perceive our work or its purpose. Often it is a matter of doing the proactive and intentional hard work of focusing on the end result, on our mission, on our reason for being.
I hope your start of the year has been good. Mine has been super busy. Why is it that, no matter how much I prepare for that busyness, I am always surprised by it? All that said, there is something that speaks deeply to vocational fulfillment when I fall into bed exhausted by a day well spent in what I believe is kingdom work, submitting it all to God and trusting him to bless it through me, and at times, in spite of me. I hope you feel passion and fulfillment in the leadership work you do for the King.
For the past year, I’ve been using this blog to share thoughts on the intersection of power and Christian school leadership. I’m hoping you’ve drawn something from those thoughts to reflect on and, in your own way, allowed it to shape your practice and beliefs. We’ve spent some time looking at factors at play in the arena of power (remember gender, charisma, theology?). I’d like to shift gears a little to deepen our understanding of how this plays out in our schools.
One of the schools leading the effort to make biblical worldview integration a flourishing practice among students and faculty is San Jose (California) Christian School. SJCS Throughlines “help students develop a clear picture of what it means to be an authentic Christian learner in all aspects of their lives. Arranged under three separate headings, they are qualities we desire students to develop, and….provide meaning and intentionality to the entire curriculum” (SJCS curriculum document).
In both Genesis and Galatians (and many others biblical texts), our calling as humans is emphasized as one of being a blessing to the nations: of reflecting back to creation the image of God and joining with him in redeeming this world to its original state of “very goodness.” This is the common vocational calling of all believers. Let me reiterate, there is no higher calling for the Christian school than to raise up students to be effective in our common vocational calling.
It’s summer. Last year’s books are put away and the halls are quiet. What better time to reflect on the past school year and contemplate the future by doing a quick check-up on our readiness to fulfill our calling?
Over the course of this year we have been looking at the idea of power and leadership, and we’ve done so through the lens of critical theory. That means we have tried to expose behaviors, practices, and norms—be they implicit or explicit—that limit us from fully flourishing as followers of Jesus. We have addressed gender, theology, culture, and status, and have yet to engage charisma and intelligence. I invite you to stay with me on this journey, as the most exciting part is yet to come: the post-exposure part where we explore what we do moving forward to ensure our enacting of power is more aligned with the Kingdom.
My last post talked about developing strategic alignment within your organization. The first step in accomplishing this is to develop a clear, agreed-upon vision and strategy. The essential task of any leader is to discuss and determine with your boards and with your staff what the “main thing” is for your school.
I often find that there is some confusion between mission and vision. For the purpose of this series of articles, vision is aspirational. It should be a short statement describing the clear and inspirational long-term desired change resulting from an organization’s or program’s work.
If in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), then is it true that Christ can be revealed through those same treasures of wisdom and knowledge?
Of course! Do we not as Christian educators deal daily with those same treasures, whether in kindergarten or AP calculus? So how are we doing when it comes to revealing Christ within these treasures? It is obviously true that teachers will reveal Christ to those we teach only if we ourselves are looking for him.
But how? Here I am suggesting two ways among many.
My neighbors moved in across the street just under a year ago. There is an older couple that appear to be grandparents, a younger couple with two small girls, and I think one other adult. The older gentleman’s name is Milkiet; he speaks very little English, is very gregarious and friendly, and is a pretty solid volleyball player, although our family has noticed that the techniques he learned playing in India are very different from the ones we learned.
It strikes me as funny that his volleyball techniques stand out as a difference when he also speaks a different language, dresses differently (including his turban), eats different food, and worships differently.
Last month we talked about one of the “Big Six” factors that influence how power plays out in our schools. I shared some reflections on how gender impacts access to positions of power and how power impacts gender.
In this entry, I’d like to look at the “theological” factors that impact the power dynamics we work within. I put quotation marks around the word “theological” because I think there are times when this word is misused, or at least used without reflection on whether it is the most accurate word.
If you are a board member, what title do you use for your main leader? Choose from the following names, each used by CSI schools: administrator, principal, head-of-school, superintendent, president, headmaster.
If you are the staff leader (I’ve never heard that as a title), how recent is the title you now have? Did you suggest to the board the title you prefer? For both boards and leaders, the current name may have little or no intentional meaning: as long as the person answers to the board, all those alternatives may seem the same. It’s akin to Juliet telling Romeo that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Who cares about the name? Continue reading