Faith in the Face of Fear: Leading In and Through Uncertain Times.
By Jessica Cabeen
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
COVID-19 has caused many feelings, concerns, and anxieties. As educators, we filter and funnel many of those emotions of others to better support our students, staff, and families. In this season, however, if I am not calm in the face of unknown, unseen, or unimaginable circumstances, I will not help and lead others through it well.
As an educator you know this to be true: we are never off the job. From working on lesson plans to attending events for our students, we live our life’s calling throughout the week, and into the weekend. Living and leading within the community you serve can provide incredible joy and unique challenges at the same time. Heading out to the grocery store can be met with many questions, concerns, or frustrations. And while you may just be looking for milk and cereal, parents, students, and teachers are looking for reassurance, answers, and more often, just want to be heard.
This season, however, the struggles I am facing are ones I cannot solve… Will we be going back to school full time? What does hybrid really mean? I miss my friends—when will I see them again?
I am a teacher and I am scared, I am a parent and I am scared, I am a student and I am scared.
Being able to respond to these issues with clarity and kindness is necessary as a leader. Even if you don’t have the answers, finding ways to give them a chance to share their concerns will give them the opportunity to be heard, and provide you insights into the true, deep questions they may have. But how can you find clarity and kindness when you yourself might not know the answers or might be afraid?
Self Regulation is Essential to Faith Formation.
No one is able to operate well when they are not well. One key to this step is to find ways to start your day without work email. For me, my morning devotional time is essential to starting my day off self-regulated. I wake up, grab a coffee, and sit with the family dog for the first 30 minutes of my day—distraction free. Currently, I am reading through a devotional on Revelation (God’s timing is always perfect). By intentionally starting my day with the Lord’s Word it reminds me that while I can’t control what comes at me in the day, He is with me and will guide me in my responses.
Gratitude in Daily Doses.
Have you ever noticed that being kind to another person almost always changes your attitude in return? Seek ways to shower others with gratitude in a fearsome season. Writing a note to a staff member, calling a student, or socially distant waving and checking on a family can provide comfort and care for others while helping your own heart and wellbeing as well.
Where are You Seeking Your Wisdom?
Whatever this fall brings, someone will not be happy. If you are back in school, in some capacity, people will be mad. If you are online to start the year, some families might be upset. If students are required to wear masks for the safety of all, a few might argue the rationale for them.
As a leader in the classroom, the school office, or at the district level we funnel those fears and filter our responses to provide kindness and clarity. So instead of posting your feelings, your fears, and your worries, take them to God. In a season of stress and circumstance where I feel like I am seeking support, encouragement, and guidance, I remind myself, “Where am I looking for feedback?”
- Are you looking out (for other’s approval)?
- Are you looking down (for other’s comments and ‘likes’ on social media)?
- Or, are you looking up for guidance and wisdom from God?
From whom you are taking your advice will translate into how well you are providing leadership in this season of unknowns, worries, and concerns. And finally, in this incredibly unique season, please remember to give yourself grace.
Grace is a willingness to learn something every day and forgive yourself along the way.
You don’t have to be perfect to serve God’s purpose, but you do have to be in a state of wellbeing to hear His call.
Jessica is currently a middle school principal in Minnesota. In 2017 she was awarded the Minnesota National Distinguished Principal. Jessica is the author of Hacking Early Learning, Lead with Grace, Unconventional Leadership, and co-authored Balance Like A Pirate. When not at bus duty or checking in with students and teachers in classrooms and the hallways she speaks at schools, districts and conferences about leadership, learning, and how to balance everything in-between.