I have heard from many Christian school leaders over the past couple of weeks. There are two things that these men and women have taught me about the leadership challenges they have been facing due to COVID-19. The first thing that caught my attention is that they have been overwhelmed by the task before them. One administrator explained how his days were much longer since the pandemic outbreak and the work is extremely hard.
The second thing that has been mentioned by everyone I hear from is how amazed they are by what God is doing in their lives and their schools. This pandemic has caused us to realize that God’s work is too difficult for any of us and can only be accomplished by our daily dying to self and following Him.
A pastor posted a blog a couple of weeks ago that cut me to the bone. He wrote,
There is a phenomenon happening right now during the Coronavirus crisis that we must not miss. God is systematically stripping every god, every idol we worship, and He’s doing it all across the world. Taken away from us are our idols of sports, entertainment, health, wealth, position, and power. One-by-one we find that the things we looked to for life and meaning are suddenly gone, stripped away by a marauding army of germs that we cannot even see. Dr. Bill Eliff
God has been bringing to my mind verses of Scripture that have caused me to ask an important question. Glen, what are you putting your hope and confidence in? I wonder if all of us have been guilty of worshipping some false gods. I am learning that worshipping false gods doesn’t necessarily mean that we become pagan atheists who deny the existence of God. In fact, I am realizing afresh that I can be heavily involved in ministry for God and be guilty of idol worship. Pause and reflect on the following verses.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7
Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Isaiah 30:2
For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water…And now why take the road to Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River? Jeremiah 2:13; 18Whatever I trust in the most is what I worship. This has been a sobering thought for me to ponder over the past few weeks. Have I worshiped my work, this blog and my website because I trusted in them and not God? Has God had to strip away some idols that had slowly replaced Him? Because I am facing a financial hit due to cancelled events etc., am I looking to the government to get me through this crisis? These have been some tough questions that have caused me to carefully examine my life.
Sometimes we think that all idols are bad things that we chase after. The truth be known, idols can be somethings that are good. Remember when God told Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, and sacrifice him on an altar. A son is not something evil. Every child, according to Psalm 127, is a gift from the Lord. However, God had something big in store for Abraham and He tested him to make sure the gift of a son that He gave him had not become an idol. God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son with these words.
And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me. Genesis 22:12
As God has been stripping away a lot of idols through this pandemic, has it caused us to get back to the what God says is most important? I have been reminded that we have been created to know God and glory in His presence. I am praying that we are having to get back to what the bottom line purpose that Christian education is to accomplish.
It was 20-25 years ago when I sat in a devotion that Mark Kennedy, ACSI Eastern Canada Director, was giving. I was there in Prince Edward Island to speak at Mark’s summer institute.
Mark challenged the Christian school leaders in attendance with some penetrating questions. If the economy completely collapsed, what is your school doing now that you would stop doing in order to stay open and provide your students with a Christian education? What programs would we cut out? What activities would we forgo/forsake/go without so that you could remain open? What budget cuts would we be willing to make?
It was interesting to hear what administrators would cut or limit in order to remain open. It is these things that could easily become objects of worship in our schools. Think about some things that we have highly valued in Christian education that God has stripped away from us during this season. As I mention them, I am not being critical of any of these things in and of themselves. I am simply asking you to evaluate what you and your school have put your trust in. These things may be our modern-day horses and chariots. Are we guilty of idol worship because we have trusted in:
- academic excellence where our measure of excellence is only horizontal based on comparing and competing with other schools?
- athletic, fine arts and other similar programs that we see as giving our schools respectability in the world?
- facilities that are first class? Whether a school is meeting in modular buildings or multi-million-dollar complexes, there is one thing they all have in common. All of our facilities are currently sitting empty.
- budgets that allow us to offer the best in technology and other instructional resources? With many schools having to move to a digital learning environment, if we are simply trusting technology, God can strip that away as easily as He has done other idols.
- (you fill in the blank) _______________________________?
This pandemic will most likely come to an end in the not too distant future. What will happen when we get back to “normal” is yet to be seen. If everything is restored, in what or who will we put our hope and trust? This, I believe, is the critical question on which hangs the sustainability of Christian education. We need to commit ourselves to siding with Joshua in his farewell challenge to Israel.
As for me and my house (school), we WILL serve the Lord!