I remember being frustrated during the COVID-19 pandemic because an administrator asked me to do something that I thought was not a good use of my time, nor was it beneficial to my students. This task required me to redo things I already did, in a new format, in the middle of the school year when we were transitioning from in-person learning to remote learning. I did not want to do what was asked of me. To be honest, I was not going to do it!
I was going to ignore the request and do what I thought best. A few nights later, I was lying in bed and started thinking about this scenario. I got the feeling that God was telling me to do what my supervisor asked my colleagues and me to do, even though it did not make sense to me. I felt that God was telling me that being obedient and having integrity are crucial for my witness. He also reminded me that I make decisions that my children, students, and others I lead don’t quite understand or agree with, yet I expect them to cooperate.
About a week later, God made this message abundantly clear by using my children. Several times over a few days, I asked them to do something; they whined, complained, and said they didn’t want to do it. This of course annoyed me. I told them to carry out my request, even though they did not want to. The Holy Spirit reminded me of my tantrums about not wanting to do things that my supervisors asked me to do. Like my children, I was struggling to have a good attitude about something I did not care about doing. Jesus, in His humanity, did not throw a tantrum even though He did not want to go to the cross; He humbled himself. The Lord requires that I too humble myself and represent Him well.
Interestingly, one of the least quoted scriptures is the one about grumbling and complaining. The scripture tells us not to complain: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Phil 2:14-15). When the Holy Spirit penned these verses, He was aware that we would face hardship and uncomfortable situations. He is not dismissing our gripe, but too often we miss the big picture of what God is doing in and through us. He wants our character to reflect Him. He gives us hardships to help us grow emotionally and spiritually. Our growth should be reflected in every area of our lives.
At work, God wants us to be peacemakers. It is tempting to join in on the conversations that are complaining about something being unfair or unnecessary. We are frustrated too. If you are like me, on one occasion or another, you probably were determined to disregard your supervisor’s request or felt you had to hold your position in opposition to your supervisor. As educators, we have rights, and we can think for ourselves. At times we are probably right, and our supervisors are wrong. Even so, is it worth proving why we are right to the detriment of our Christian witness?
We need to reflect on our greater role in our schools and not focus so much on the title our school districts give us. Yes, something might infringe on our rights or autonomy, but Jesus gave up His rights so that we could have life. God wants us to speak words of peace and calm to ourselves and our colleagues when things get tough. In this way, we will share with our colleagues, directly and indirectly, the abundant life that God has given us. We also need to ask the Holy Spirit for His perspective on the issues we encounter so that our actions and reactions can reflect His will. When we have God’s perspective, instead of stirring the pot of dissension, we can speak truth and life to help alleviate stress and discontent. God wants His Spirit to shine through us as we represent Him well to our colleagues, supervisors, and students.
“But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams’” (1 Samuel 15:22).