Our schools need resources to flourish. You may add, they need resources to survive. Whether finances, facilities, personnel, volunteers, or students, the drive to secure these resources can become an all-consuming part of a school leader’s work. And no matter how hard we work at it, we can tend to live under the relentless realization that we don’t have enough. Think of your last board meeting, leadership team meeting, faculty meeting or finance meeting. Was the talk of abundance or was it dominated by anxiety over what you lack to be the school you want to be?
As followers of Jesus, this should cause a check in our spirit because while we struggle with this relentless sense of scarcity on one hand, we also believe that God is our provider, and He is faithful. If this is true (and it is!) then how can a faithful God consistently provide us with less than what we need?
I believe this paradox speaks to the heart of the reason we don’t have enough resources in our schools. This tension requires us to conclude one of two things; either 1) God is not willing to provide our needs, or 2) He has.
Wait, what? Yes, that’s right, if God is our provider and He is faithful, then can we conclude anything other than the fact that what God has provided us is enough? Our reaction to this possibility is often fueled by the ‘realities’ in our world such as the red numbers on our budget or the cry from overworked teachers who are asked to teach too many students in their classrooms for too little pay. These are real problems that would seemingly disappear if we just had more resources.
Or would they? Is our shortage of resources caused by a stingy God, or could it be caused, at least in part, from our inability to name what is ‘enough’? Consider this statement: “If you are not content where you are today as a school, no amount of resources will ever get you there – it’s the great lie of the enemy!”
Could it be that God continually supplies all our needs, only to have us shrug them off in pursuit of more, bigger, newer, etc.? Contentment gets a bad rap in many Christian circles, yet Paul reminded the wealthy of his day that, “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6). I would propose we could paraphrase this to say that ‘school leadership with contentment brings great peace.’ We could term this ‘holy contentment.’
I believe our schools today need leaders who live and lead with holy contentment. Holy contentment works in three beneficial ways. First, it focuses us on gratefulness for what God has provided rather than anxiety over what we think we still lack. Which sounds more like a characteristic of a follower of Jesus?
Second, it causes us to redouble our efforts to be wise stewards of what we have. If what God has provided you and your school today is enough, how should you be stewarding those resources for His glory? God, keep us from being poor stewards of what you have so graciously provided while at the same time crying out in our discontent for more.
Finally, holy contentment is the position from which God will reveal His vision for the future of your school. Being content in Christ does not negate a desire to grow, it is actually the fertile ground from which that growth flourishes in a way that honors the Sower. Let me illustrate.
Two school leaders announce plans to grow their school 20% over the coming year. Externally, these may look like the same decision. But, consider that inwardly, one leader has chosen this goal out of a deep dissatisfaction of the state of his school and a gnawing discontent that focuses on all that they don’t have (and other schools do). With anxiety and fear, he pushes the school ahead toward the goal.
The other leader lives and leads with a thankful and content spirit. In that contentment, she senses God is leading her to step out in faith and trust Him to grow the school. She leads her team with confidence, quietness of spirit and joy toward the same 20% goal, believing that the same God that provided all her school needed to this point will be faithful to resource this new vision. Two leaders, two identical goals, but two very different perspectives.
We Have Everything We Need
This leads me to suggest that one reason our schools may not have enough resources is that we have defined our ‘enough’ as ‘more than what we have’. What would it look like as a school leader to create a culture that takes seriously David’s confident affirmation, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need?” What might God do for our school if we continually thank Him for all that He has already done and acknowledge what He has provided is enough?
I pray that God might grant us a heart of gratitude for all He has abundantly provided our schools, the wisdom to steward every resource wisely for His glory, and a spirit that is ready to step out in faith when He calls us to an even greater work from our position of holy contentment.
Editor’s Note: Join Dr. Scott Rodin at ACSI’s Flourishing Schools Institute (FSi), where he will be speaking on the topics of sustainability and resource constraints. The next FSi will be in Oak Brook, Illinois (west of Chicago) on June 21-23, 2022. Register your team today!
About the Author
Dr. Scott Rodin has a passion for helping Christian ministry leaders take a biblical approach to leadership development, strategic planning, board development and raising kingdom resources. Over the past thirty years, he has worked with hundreds of organizations in the U.S, Canada, Middle East, Great Britain, China, India, the Philippines, and Australia.
Dr. Rodin is president of The Steward’s Journey and Kingdom Life Publishing. He also runs Rodin Consulting, Inc. He is a Senior Fellow of the Association of Biblical Higher Education, Partner for the Alliance for Board Effectiveness, and is past board chair of China Source and the Evangelical Environmental Network. Dr. Rodin holds Master of Theology and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Systemic Theology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.