Fearless Leadership in the Face of the Unknown
By Dr. Sanée Bell
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I can’t wait until we get back to normal.” There is no doubt that our world has been turned upside down. It is quite natural to want to get back to the world we knew before this global crisis; but unfortunately, the way we describe life from this point forward will be the way things were before COVID-19 and the way things are after. We will have a new normal that is unknown to us at this time; however, through this uncertainty, there is one normal that will always remain constant—God is in control now and always will be. Knowing this truth as a school leader should help us to remember that we are to lead boldly in the face of fear and uncertainty, and more importantly, we should not depend solely on our own understanding to help us navigate our challenges. As we continue to lead our schools and communities, I want to encourage you to think soberly about how you view obstacles.
While the human side of us may see obstacles as a burden, the spiritual side should see the struggle as the start of something new and beautiful. If we view obstacles as a setup for success instead of a set back, we are allowing God to use us as an instrument of faith. Life is a challenge. In Romans 8:22, Paul states, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Since the beginning of time, there have always been challenges in this world; however, we must find confidence, comfort, and peace in knowing that things don’t work out on their own—God works all things out in His own time and in His own way. Pain and suffering is inevitable in this life, but we must always remember that comfort comes from knowing God is in control. He works through us to be a beacon of light in this world of darkness. As a child of God in a leadership role, we are to remember that we are the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), and because of this, our light must shine brightly! Here are three 3 ways to demonstrate fearless leadership in the face of our unknown future.
Be an Instrument
The decisions we make and the actions we take give us the opportunity to let our light shine. Jesus expects us to be ready to help those who are in need, and we must advocate for those who are not able to advocate for themselves. As leaders, this means ensuring that we use our roles to lift up and support others. We must ensure that the climate and culture we create is one that helps others to be their best selves. Use your position to minister and serve others. You were placed in your position for a reason.
To Lead is to Serve
Each action or choice we make each day should reflect the life of Christ. As leaders we should ask the following question daily, “Who will I serve today?” When dealing with difficult people, the first reaction should be to react with gentleness, peace and understanding. We must remember that our actions are a manifestation of the things in our hearts. By filling our hearts with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), we will produce actions that reflect those characteristics when we lead others. Examine the ways you serve your students, teachers, and community. Do your actions meet their needs?
Make Foundational Decisions
Making decisions, especially in great times of uncertainty, is a challenge. Many times there will be opposition to the decisions that we make. Taking our concerns to the Lord in prayer is the first strategy we should always employ. In Philippians 4:6, we are told, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Pray for wisdom, ask for guidance, and trust that God will direct our path to the right decisions. Know that even in the face of opposition that God will give you peace.
As you continue to lead others, never let go of the only constant and certainty that we have–God’s unchanging hand. He will strengthen and uphold you and He will never leave you (Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:6).
Dr. Sanée Bell is a middle school principal in Texas. She has served as an administrator since 2005 at both the elementary and secondary levels. Prior to becoming an administrator, Sanée taught middle school and high school English and also coached girls basketball. She earned her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston Clear Lake. Sanée serves as Future Ready Thought Partner on the Future Ready Schools project, and has contributed to several publications and podcasts focused on leadership and its impact on students and teachers. Sanée is co-author and co-editor of the Education Write Now Series, and she is featured in the book Dare to Lead authored by Brené Brown. Sanée is the author of Be Excellent on Purpose: Intentional Strategies for Impactful Leadership. She is passionate about authentic, purposeful learning for students and teachers, and also has a strong passion for leadership and its impact on teacher engagement, student learning and school culture. Sanée recognizes her impact as a leader and uses her role to inspire, motivate, and empower others.