It's Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020. I came home sick around 2:00 p.m., discouraged at the thought of missing a parent meeting tonight at our school. It's a talk by Tyler Durman, author of Counterintuitive: What 4 Million Teenagers Wish We Knew. In my work as a 9-12 principal, it seems imperative that I am there. Instead, I am home resting, listening to Ash Wednesday podcasts from Sacred Ordinary Days and participating in a Lectio Divina under two layers of covers. That's when it hit me. This is all part of God's master plan.
And I've been fighting it tooth and nail for a week.
As leaders, we can't get sick, right? It's not a good time. I cannot get sick right now. So we Thieves all the things (or Chlorox if you're late to the chemical-free bandwagon), pump ourselves full of Vitamin D and turmeric shots and keep on grinding. Pedal to the metal. #bossbabe #beastmode
(For the love. Can we please stop #hustling for our worthiness?)
During my Lectio Divina, however, I realized that I'm doing it all wrong. This illness is God's way of flagging me down with a big ol' orange construction flag boldly proclaiming, "Detour Ahead. Slow down." You're moving too fast, sister. And if you won't listen, I am going to force you into this pause. Into this quiet. Into this rest.
Snotty nose and all.
Lenten leadership, for all of us, regardless of where or when or how we lead, should be about engaging in the process of discernment and considering it a practice of ongoing unfolding during these next 40 days. As we become still and listen to how God moves within our hearts, we should become, as Jenn Giles Kemper and Lacy Clark Ellman state in the podcast, like Michelangelo carving the statue of David. His strategy was to simply carve away the stone until David was all that was left. How can we, as leaders during this Lenten season, become quiet enough that we can discern how to carve away all the marble or riff-raff in our lives until God is all that is left?
We would also do well to remember that not everything we must carve away is necessarily bad. Insead, let us not make a qualitative judgement, but recognize the things in our lives, whether deemed positive or negative, good or bad, as mere distractions. Attachments. Anything that separates us from God.
How could be emerge as leaders if we carve away all of the extra marble during this season of our lives?
As I re-emerged from the pages of Joel and came back to my eucalyptus-infused bedroom and soft, inviting sheets, I realized that God's calling for me is quite simple. "Return to me. Get quiet. I have it from here."
My Lenten leadership practices, then, will involve prayer-based strategies for helping me become quiet, and, simply, return to God. I will continue to practice Lectio Divina. I will stop before I make decisions and ask myself, "Is this separating me from or drawing me closer to God?" I will assess my daily rituals and habits and ask whether a routine is serving as a distraction or as an attachment, and if it has a place or time in this new space I am creating. I will engage in practices so that I may draw closer to God.
Even in my fever. Even in my snot.
Dear Lord, come. Make all things new. I can't wait to return to you.
Linger a Little Longer:
1. Take a moment to identify the distractions in your life. Make a list of your attachments. Remember, these do not necessarily have to have a negative value. We can be distracted or attached to things that can, at times, be good for us, too!
2. Research Lectio Divina. How could this practice draw you closer to God in your daily life?
3. Commit to a practice that allows you to become a quieter leader and to make space within your leadership this Lenten season. What impact do you anticipate this practice to have on your leadership life?