Grace in Our Lives: Reflections from a Lutheran Day School Principal
For those who are in the business of teaching and leading within Lutheran circles, the process of being grace-filled in the twenty-first century cannot be ignored. Perhaps this discussion should have taken place many years ago, but present circumstances seem to dictate the opportunity to have rich dialogue as one faces the incredible dynamics church workers deal with on a daily basis. This essay is from the perspective of one who has led in Lutheran schools for many years—through the office of a head of school or principal. Such insight might take on a bias, but it could provide an important opportunity for dialogue in today’s world of educational uncertainties. Within the Christian school context, a biblical perspective allows for a worldview that must be considered.
Looking at our families today—which include every person reading this—it seems as if there are at times no answers to questions that include the “how” of being a grace-filled community of faith. Just bearing the name “Lutheran school” does not necessarily mean that all involved understand the mission and vision of fulfilling the Great Commission. Promoting the equipping of each other in godly and biblical principles is foundational and needed. But sin enters in, and even God’s people tend to allow personal preferences to take the place of humbly listening to God’s will. Hopefully, the struggles faced daily should be balanced by the joys in getting to proclaim Christ crucified, to celebrate Baptisms, to see faith formation and service learning in action, and so much more! How do we communicate what needs to happen so that the message of faith, caring, and hope gets through in a meaningful way? As a community of believers, we look to God’s promises through His Word:
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16 ESV).
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8 ESV).
And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace (John 1:16 ESV).
Each of these verses is a gift to be both cherished and practiced. To be invited to draw near to the throne of grace, to receive mercy, to find grace—what gifts! To know and grasp the reality of being saved through faith—what a gift! And to comprehend what it means to receive the fullness of God through His grace—there is no greater gift!
In practical terms, the law (rules, guidelines) is important, and it helps us to live lives that need structure and accountability. With a full realization of this, we can also keep that “grace card” in our back pockets and grab and use it at much-needed times. Think about…
- The contents of our handbooks: Although important to follow, could we tweak them as needed, to better bless the families we serve?
- Expectation for timeliness for our faculty and staff members—like being on time for meetings: Could we have understanding hearts, realizing every person is wired differently and has all good intentions?
- Attendance and tardy rules: Although it is important to keep track, could such records end up being more than stats on paper and provide an avenue for a care-filled discussion with families?
- Special needs, including gaps in learning and within a spectrum social-emotional concerns: Should we not look at each child of God and the needs they have, and attempt to tailor-design a learning plan for them, even if it may not follow conventional rules?
- Care of our clients: These are the people we serve, even during disagreements, wrong-doing, anxious moments, and struggles with how we run our schools. Could we always be prepared to teach, and to learn for the betterment of the culture of our relationships, as we meet to order solutions?
Grace is often defined as “underserved love.” Such love should be freely given, as God did when He sent His Son to be our Savior, the greatest gift ever received by those who believe! For sinners, this gift is unmerited, but filled with the greatest love possible. When we practice, together, grace-based teaching and leading, all perspectives change. Life is framed differently. The lens of who we are and Whose we are become clearer and better focused, in service to God and to our fellow man.