What About Bob?

Every Lutheran school I have been around has a Bob.  Maybe his name isn’t Bob.  It could be Roger; John; Randy; Don.  It could be Sandi; Phyllis; Sue; Anita.

But I’ll stick with Bob for now.

You know the Bob:  He or she is the person who volunteers at school without complaint.  In fact, Bob doesn’t just volunteer, he is just… there.  Bob is probably the closest human representation of omnipresence because he is always at school.  Bob doesn’t have to be asked; he just finds the need and takes care of it.

Our Lutheran schools rely on Bob.  Simply put, we cannot exist without Bob.  All of those “little” details are not little and Bob makes sure they get done.  Our schools are often understaffed and workers–paid and Bobs alike–are asked to do a lot… maybe even too much at times.

So, we need to take care of our Bobs.

Recently, one of our Bobs went to be at home with the Lord.  When I went back for the funeral, I had to smile because there were four principals at the funeral–all of us had been greatly impacted by Bob in our time at the school.  Bob lived the old adage of “give your time, talent, and treasure.”

Bob’s time was spent at school.  He checked up on the property.  He took care of the mowing.  He took care of all the minor repairs.  Bob would be there for all events.  He was at lunch every day, taking the trash out afterward.  He would check up on the building after storms.  There was no detail that was too big or too small for Bob.  But his time was not just devoted to the building.  Bob devoted his time to people as well.  One year I took our small 8th grade class out for lunch at the end of the year.  Bob thought that was a great idea and so the next two years, he came along and paid the bill.  Bob would talk to every student as they came through the lunch line.  He knew us all; not just as a name, but as a person.

That was one of Bob’s talents.  Bob had a way of engaging people.  I am sure that there were times that he would be upset, but I honestly cannot recall any moments in the time we worked together.  If he was ever upset, I’m sure it had something to do with the students.  His talent of forming relationships meant that all of the students, staff, and parents were important to him.  Every single one.  He wanted the best for everyone.  And so he used other talents.  Bob enjoyed mowing, and so he would do it for the school.  Bob was a problem-solver, so he would troubleshoot issues that came up and would find ways to fix problems or help find the right person to get things fixed.

And that leads to the last category:  treasure.  Bob actually donated property that is the site of the school.  He gave to his congregation and to the school because Bob understood that ultimately, all that he “had” was actually from God and that Bob himself was the caretaker.  He gave joyfully because he cared greatly for the church and school, because he was involved and knew the needs, and because it honestly gave him great joy.

So… what about Bob?

When I left the funeral, I thought, “Who are going to be the people that replace Bob?”  I started thinking about the Bobs I have known and how they are all getting older–either near retirement or in some cases well beyond.  Who will take the place of our Bobs?

And then I had my answer.

A few days after this funeral, my current school held a back to school event.  It was a lot of fun and took a lot to put together.  I saw parent volunteers who gave up their weekend to make this happen.  I saw congregation members and board members manning grills and ticket counters.  I realized, “These are the next generation of Bob.”  Now, don’t get me wrong… we cannot take our Bobs for granted.  Instead, I mean that the Lord will provide.

Shortly after the event, I heard about an even younger Bob.  One of our young custodians stayed long afterward.  When some of the parents told this person to go home because they (the parents) would take care of things, our young custodian refused, recognizing that this was a way to give back to the school.  After I heard that story, I thought back to some other young Bobs I have run across in my career:  AJ, Allen, Jesse, Jeff…

What about Bob?

Two things:

1–We are blessed by Bob.  Never take Bob for granted and be grateful for each Bob you know.

2–With all the uncertainty; with all the concern over younger generations, I realize that the Lord provides.  It will be okay.  He will raise up new Bobs, and I pray that He will use me to help those new Bobs.

I miss Bob.  I am sure that everyone at that school misses him dearly.  But what a great thing it will be to have a Bob Reunion in heaven someday.

Do Something!

This blog post is from VolunteerHub. The original post can be found here: https://www.volunteerhub.com/blog/4-life-enriching-reasons-to-volunteer. I felt that it was important to post this. I know that a lot of times I can be guilty of paralysis by analysis–wanting to make something PERFECT before I implement it. And maybe others feel that way as well. Maybe you need someone to say this to you today: We need you. We need you to help; to volunteer in our schools and churches. Please, do something today!

Volunteering has the power to positively impact the community and provide you with life-changing benefits at the same time. Here are 4 ways that volunteerism can provide you with value.

For most people who volunteer, the motivation is to make a difference and give something back to society. And while these are genuinely worthy and important reasons, it’s also true that volunteering has benefits for the volunteer as well as their community. Here are four ways that volunteering your time for others can enrich your own life too.

Further Your Career

If you take up volunteering while you’re still of working age, you can expect your career prospects to gain a boost. When a recruiter sees a volunteering entry on your resume, they can be confident that you have well-rounded experience and the adaptability that’s so valuable in any workplace. A Volunteering in America study, published by AmeriCorps, found that volunteering gives job prospects a 27% advantage over non-volunteers.

The many new skills you learn through volunteering can be transferable to your working life, even if they’re in a completely different area. And you may even pick up useful qualifications such as a first aid certification, which always boost your CV’s strength.

Volunteering can also further your career by introducing you to a variety of new contacts, making new connections, and building up your professional network.

All of these benefits make volunteering an excellent idea in a period of temporary unemployment, turning a resume negative into a strong positive.

Personal Development and Self Improvement

As well as improving your career prospects, increasing your breadth of experience will inevitably bring personal development. Most volunteers meet people from unfamiliar backgrounds and experience situations they’ve never encountered before. Not only will this widen your perspective on life, but it’ll enhance your flexibility, boost your self-confidence, and increase your sense of self-worth and value to society.

Improve Your Social Life

Meeting new people can also enrich your social life, as you’ll get the chance to build friendships with people you’d never have met without volunteering. If you are looking to make new friends, broadening your horizons through volunteering will provide exciting new perspectives as well as giving you something new to bring to your current social circles.

Improved Mental and Physical Health

Lastly, volunteering is a great way to stay active, which has strong benefits for both physical and mental health. In fact, according to a study, performed by the National Institutes of Health, volunteering resulted in an 8.54% increase in mental health. Spending time in a busy environment with like-minded people can be a powerful stress-buster, as it takes you away from any worries and problems in other parts of your life. This reduction in stress can feed through into better sleep, reduced risk of heart problems, and even a greater ability to shake off minor illnesses.

Of course, the greatest benefit of volunteering is the good it does for your community. But the extra personal positives brought by the act of generosity mean it’s an even more compelling way to use your spare time.

A Tough Spot

How do you navigate change? I suppose that there are many approaches one can take. In the end, I guess it comes down to the band-aid or getting into the pool problem: Do you do it quickly and get it over with, dealing with the aftermath? Or do you do it gradually?

I don’t know that I have the right answer.

I do know that we in education–and especially Lutheran education–have a lot of changes to confront. One of the difficult ones is a BIG one: What does education look like post-COVID? It is a tough spot to be in. How do we navigate SEL? How do we keep the “good pre-COVID” and the “good COVID” while attempting to fix those things that maybe weren’t so great?

In the end, we go forward. Think about it: What a time to be alive! What a time to lead in our schools! Can you believe that the Lord has called you and I for this? While these challenges may seem daunting, remember that the Lord will not forsake you. He loves you; He has called you to this task and He will equip you for it!

Lessons Learned

This blog post can be found at the Lessons Learned Blog which is the blog of Dr. Howard Carlson. I encourage you to check it out! So… what lessons have you learned in the past 16 months? Take time to reflect and use the windowpane method:

As the school year wanes, I hope each of you are making plans to get away this summer and recuperate from what has likely been the most challenging year ever faced by school district leaders. It is my further hope that you will not only plan to relax while away, but also carve out some time for thought and reflection. Once you do, I trust that time might be used in the following manner…

Think about lessons learned from this year.  Consider how your life and the lives of those you lead and interact with has been changed.  Based upon this information what do you see as next steps for your school system? To figure this out I encourage you to engage in the following simple activities.

First, consider and record in writing the lessons learned over this past year, both good and bad. I believe this is important because in any situation we adapt to the realities of the condition we face and there are always practices and activities that we can adopt moving forward.

Next, it would be instructive to apply the Windowpane Model in considering how your life, the lives of those you lead (think administrators, staff…etc.), and those you interact with (think board members, parents…etc.) have changed. Similarly, it is important to consider how different groups believe the school system has changed or should change. Is it that there is a greater desire for more counselors in your schools, or establishing a permanent opportunity for certain students to learn online, or will bus drivers want to have buses disinfected daily, or will board members desire ongoing use of Zoom to conduct certain meetings? Clearly this exercise is context specific and one that only you (or your team) can complete.

By the way, if you are not already familiar with the Windowpane Model it is a tool I have outlined in my books, but the concept is straightforward. On a notepad, piece of chart paper, or a white board draw a square and divide that square into a set of smaller squares so that the completed picture resembles a window with multiple panes. In each pane of the window identify a group, such as teachers, bus drivers, parents, administrators, board members…etc., and then think through and record how their lives and jobs have changed as a function of the pandemic. The activity provides a way for you (or your team) to systemically think through the impact of the pandemic on key groups within your school system so that you are prepared to consider next steps.

Ok, the final part of the process is to use the product of the lessons learned and windowpane activity to inform your next steps. In other words, based upon this information how do you approach the coming year? What might you want to carry forward from this previous year or two on a permanent basis? How have those you work and interact with changed? To what extent do these changes impact how your school system moves forward?

Of course, there are many other questions to be considered, but I hope these activities get you started thinking about the impact of the pandemic at a systems level and encourages you to glean that which can make a difference in the future.

If you have other thoughts or ideas for how to think through and better understand how the pandemic will impact your school system moving forward, please place those ideas in the comments section below. Please remember that we all gain and benefit when we share our thoughts and ideas with each other.

Relationships and Overcommitment

This post is from Dan Rockwell’s LeadershipFreak Blog. I highly encourage you to check it out!

I woke up late this morning. It caused me to reflect on the reason I get up in the first place. Commitments came to mind.

Every commitment is a limitation.

Sleeping late and writing early don’t slide their feet under the same table.

Commitments limit and expand at the same time but in opposing directions. People who believe they can have it all end up as skid marks that vanish in the fog.

Tennis ball - boundary line.

Every commitment is a limitation.

Commitments:

Commitments add meaning to life.

Commitments declare that others can depend on you.

Commitments distinguish between catastrophe and achievement in a frantic world.

Commitments are fortified with NO.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” Steve Jobs

A yes without a no is over-commitment.

6 relationships that cause you to overcommit:

Relationships explain commitment-making styles.

  1. Greed – your relationship with money.
  2. Insecurity – your relationship with yourself.
  3. Fear – your relationship with environments.
  4. Pleasing – your relationship with team members.
  5. Ambition – your relationship with the future.
  6. Guilt – your relationship with the past.

Successful commitment-making:

  1. Pause before you commit. Over-commitment creates chaos, stress, mediocrity, and self-accusation.
  2. Use people-pleasing as a tool to NOT overcommit. Stop disappointing people by dropping the ball.
  3. Reflect on current responsibilities and future aspirations when making commitments.
  4. Infuse self-knowledge into commitment-making. Know your talents and strengths so you can seize relevant opportunities.

A commitment is a decision made once.

What causes leaders to overcommit?

What guidelines help you make commitments?

What Could Be?

I have been pondering this question a lot lately: What could be? What potential projects, ideas, or… things… are out there that we can take away from COVID-19 learning?

Here is an article that briefly discusses a few of those things.

But what about what the Lord is doing? What are some things that we are blind to, that may be right before our eyes; opportunities that we have in sharing the Gospel?

We are in the last months of a capital campaign for a building project. As I look back, I realize that there are just so many things that did not even cross our minds in the early stages and building phases of this project. And yet, the Lord opened our eyes to ways that we can use our building to tell others about Him and to support families and children.

Lord, please open our eyes to see. Give us Your vision for what You would have us do in our ministry.

Can We Go Outside Today?

Another fantastic blog post by Dave Eberwein. Please take the time to read and reflect on this.

The Power of Why

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.

It would be a typical day in late spring. I was in my classroom teaching science. The weather was warm, sunny and inviting. A hand would rise and the polite voice would ask, “Can we go outside for class today? Please, Mr. Eberwein.” Most sunny days the question repeated itself. What the students probably didn’t realize is that I wanted to be outside as well. However, my lessons just didn’t fit well with being outdoors so the answer was often a NO.

Prospect Lake Elementary School – Natural Playground

But, IS there some evidence that supports the idea that learning outside is beneficial — that being immersed in our natural surroundings is actually helpful while learning curriculum?

We have all heard anecdotal support for learning outside — that being in nature is calming and centering — things like going on nature hikes…

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