” Now we want a king to be our leader, just like all the other nations. Choose one for us!” 1 Samuel 8: 4
As I think about what is happening politically and educationally, in fact in most aspects of life, I have been inspired by insights from a Rob Bell podcast which focused on the story from 1 Samuel 8. During times of disruption and uncertainty it can appear easier to have someone else make the decisions and to take a known path like “everyone else” rather than struggle towards a new, creative, different way of embracing the emerging future.
It was certainly the situation for the Israelites. God had led them out of slavery. At Sinai he gave them guidance on how to live, and later empowering leaders such as Samuel, which didn’t involve dependence on idols or kings to enslave them again. God gave them the opportunity to trust God’s spirit working in them, and use a higher order way of organising themselves. But when things got complex and Samuel was getting old and he appointed his sons who were less than effective, then fear and defaulting into old ways of thinking re-merged.
There are close parallels to our current contexts. There is much global disruption occurring, climate change, movement of refugees, challenges to environmental sustainability, the nature of work, all of which are contributing to a range of responses. For some it means: “We just want a leader who will make the decisions, to tell us what to do and make us great again’ and then there are others in the world who are realising that working together in new ways, listening openly to the range of perspectives can do much to bring about community engagement, inclusivity and eco-thinking rather ego-thinking.
But back to the story! Samuel would have been beside himself when he hears that the people want to have a “king like everyone else” and talks to God about it. God says “Hey Samuel this is not about you but about me!! They are rejecting the freedom I have given them however this is their choice. While you can tell them, they can have their king just warn them as to what they are getting!” So that’s what Samuel did. He told them that they would become slaves again to a king, but they were fine with this as they just wanted to be like everyone else.
So where do we see ourselves with this? Our emerging future and what that means for education and leadership requires imagination, innovation and creativity as we explore new opportunities. This approach allows us and in fact requires us to trust God’s spirit working in us, prompting, encouraging, guiding us to do things differently.
All people are created with their own uniqueness and creativity. How are we, in our learning communities, embracing and nourishing this? How are we promoting learning as God’s gift for wonder, growth and to respond to the needs of the world? How are we catering for those students who don’t fit the mould, welcoming them, and using this as motivation to do things differently? Or is it easier to play it safe?
Doing things differently comes at a cost, however so does staying in the past and can have far greater cost to individuals and society. How are we modelling trust in the radical nature of who God is and how God works? This might mean, giving up aspects of the comfortable, known to the uncomfortable, unknown. However, it also allows for generative dialogue and space for God’s spirit to inspire, challenge, provoke, encourage, guide and create!
So, take the leap forward, one of healing and hope, where God is the source of energy and inspiration. We can then, “join in the ongoing creation and care of the world and all people” (Growing deep: our foundation) and be the people God created us to be.
Educational Leadership Director