The other day a teacher shared with me that one of the challenges we currently face as educators is an identity crisis. Her point was that people go into education because they love kids and love helping kids learn. Yet, due to the reality of distance learning precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us in education have been left feeling stripped of our ability to fully live into our gifts and calling. I was struck by her phrasing and appreciated the fact that she was able to name it and put what many of us are feeling into words. It also made me wonder about the steps I can take to ease that unsettling feeling in myself.
Personally, I fall into the trap of defining myself by what I do. I am a principal, a school administrator, and if I do my job well, I get recognition that makes me feel affirmed and appreciated. If I'm not careful, though, it can become my primary identity. While I think there is a need for positively identifying ourselves with what we do at some level, I've learned that identifying myself in that way can also come at a cost when my "what" takes precedence over my "who."
Ultimately, my identity should be in Christ, and I have to constantly remind myself of that. "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Eph. 2:10) Who am I? I am God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus. What do I do? I do good works:
As a husband who loves and supports his wife...
As a father who loves and parents his kids...
As a principal who serves a school community and cares for its people...
The list goes on.
Regardless of our various individual “whats,” they all flow out of the "who.”
Maybe that is the lesson I need to learn through this time. If I focus more on who I am than what I do, maybe the dissonance I feel in this moment eases a bit. If I wake up each day reminding myself that I am his handiwork, as flawed as I am and as limited as I am in these circumstances, I have the assurance that God has prepared in advance the good works to be done and has also created me to carry them out.
My encouragement for all of you is to see yourselves in that light. You are God's handiwork, and the work you are doing is imperfect and limited, but it is good work that God has prepared for you to do. He chose this moment for each of us.
Kevin Vos is the Principal & Administrator of Brookfield Christian School in Brookfield, WI. To learn more about BCS, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.