Here I Sit

Jun 23rd, 2020 | Category: Columns, Here I sit
By Shirley Morgenthaler

Let God Lead

      Literacy. Leadership and early childhood centers. Music in the classroom. Collaboration in the workplace. Developing consensus toward working together. Overall, the articles in this issue have something for almost everyone. And when you add the columns and book reviews, the diversity of this issue broadens even further.

      Thinking about the shelter-in-place order that leaders at every level of the government are giving in response to the coronavirus, this issue may be just what our readership needs. It’s a good time to read an article outside of your field. It’s a good time to think about educational issues that don’t cross your own professional path every day. It’s a good time to consider the face of education from the perspective of another professional in a different corner of the educational enterprise.

      It’s even a good time to learn something new. To master a craft or an artistic endeavor. To try new recipes for family meals. Maybe to try cooking for the first time ever. To do a little woodworking. To master a face-to-face virtual environment in order to communicate with family and colleagues.

      I personally am leading Zoom meetings for the first time this week. It’s my new preference for connecting with extended family. Tonight I’m talking with a nephew and niece. I’m setting a goal of zooming with two grandchildren each week. I can finish the job in a month before I need to start all over again. Maybe I want to do more than two a week!

      I am grateful for Concordia University Chicago and that we implemented online learning and teaching more than a decade ago. It’s probably the reason for the spectacular growth in our graduate programs, both at the master’s and doctoral levels.

      So what is Covid-19 causing you to do differently? How are you communicating with the students in your classrooms? Has the use of Zoom, or something like it, entered into your thinking and into your planning for implementation? How are you keeping in touch with your youth group? Have you thought about talking to a couple of leaders within that group to get a crash course on the technology that the kids are using today? You don’t want to make the mistake of using a form of communication technology that your youth would regard as “so yesterday.” How are you staying in touch with the leaders in your department? In your school? In your congregation? Have you developed a schedule or a rhythm of communication with colleagues who are usually just a few steps down the hall when you want a brief chat? Are you keeping that “brief chat” mentality going, now that the coronavirus is dictating our lives?

      My personal challenge has been to remember that God knew about Covid-19 long before it appeared on our radar. Long before we were all, in a sense, quarantined to our homes. God had determined that there is something for you and me to learn in all of this. Patience? Creativity? Ways to alleviate anxiety? Long-distance ministry and job performance?

      We have all experienced and grown from the experience of online worship services in the past weeks. But have you thought about online Bible study? Online small groups? Online parent discussion groups? Online implementation of the small-group discussions you regularly have in your face-to-face classroom? Online mentoring of students who are struggling in your class? What about taking three of your most able and articulate students and pairing them, one on one, with those strugglers in your class? They have a number of options for meeting virtually and they would each learn from the experience.

      As I write this, I am thinking about having a conversation with God about this coronavirus experience. Part of this conversation will involve asking a number of questions, such as…

  • What am I, personally and specifically, to learn from this quarantine?
  • Why the whole world, God? Are we supposed to learn more about our fellow humans in other parts of the world?
  • How can I help my neighbor who is frightened and afraid to even answer the telephone?
  • What were you thinking, God? This virus is not just an inconvenience. It’s a deadly and unwelcome guest in far too many homes.
  • What are we as a culture going to do differently from this time forward because of what we are learning from this illness and from this quarantine?

      And conversations with God always need time for listening to his side of things. That’s how we learn from struggles and hardship. So I need to make time to listen to God as he comforts me, teaches me, and encourages me. I need to make plenty of time for listening if I am to learn from it.

      Be still. Ten times God tells us, through various biblical writers, to “be still.” The classic communication of that stillness order is in Psalm 46:10. Be still and know that I am God. Sometimes that stillness order is just what I need. A reminder to let God lead. A reminder that God is the director of my orchestra and that I have to wait for his downbeat before I get to make a sound.

      God is in charge. We will survive. We need to be listening. To God. To government authorities. To health-care professionals. And when we are done listening, this is a good time to read the Journal. Enjoy. LEJ