From the warm confines of my home office yesterday, I was able to listen in on the CSI webinar about leadership for the 21st century. As always there were some reminders and some good take-aways. However, after the presenter had made his point about the role of biblical leadership, I found my mind drifting away from the voices in the background to a recent school situation.
This past week another one of our schools had to deal with the grief that affects our community when a member dies—in this case, a mom of students in an elementary school, who was taken suddenly through an illness. The tragedy of death in a young family. A terrible thing. The family mourns the loss of a wife, and a mother; the community grieves for the family that remains and, for themselves, at the loss of a member, a friend.
In the midst of that however, the community arises to comfort and support. People rise up to meet the needs of the family. Meals come to the door of the grieving family, children hug the grieving child, students gather in prayer lead by the example of teachers and parents. Friends visit and we assist in the ways that are natural and sometimes not so natural for us.
I hate death but I love how our communities come together at those times. This week, the Principal of this school described the care and love of the community, the desire to help, the willingness of teachers to gather early to pray, people trained in dealing with grief who gave freely of their time to come into the school.
As biblical leaders in our communities at those times, we take on a larger pastoral cloak. Those who grieve want to see us in our offices, in their homes, in the community, at the funeral home and finally maybe even participate in the funeral service. And then afterwards they want to see us lead the school, supporting the community as the grief process unfolds. It is a position of leadership that is an honour more than it is an obligation, a symbol of one of the core values of our community because we know that being a community of faith means we stand together at all times, in all circumstances.
We are often called as leaders to put aside our own grief in order to lead as the community requires that of us. At these times my memory recalls the first words of the Heidleberg Catechism: “What is my only comfort in life and in death? That I belong, with body and soul, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” Knowing this tangibly, certainly, will give us the strength to lead in the midst of the inevitable difficult moments.
It is my prayer that as we continue the journey into 2015 that we will to be confident and comforted in this knowledge and that as needs arise we will find the inner strength to be communities of grace and strength.