A world of weary benefactors
Feeling unappreciated, unwanted or unwelcome in the post-Covid era? You’re not alone.
Although this column focuses (mostly) on educational issues, it is not just a school issue. Just about anyone in a “service” position has been tempted to feel this recently. Service positions include anyone from parents trying to mitigate the overwhelming influence of social media on their children to business owners battling to keep people employed during supply chain issues. However, frontline workers might feel the ugliness the most, as frustrated people can explode over the most insignificant topics. If people are relying on you for their livelihood, safety, or even a drink from the fountain, you can probably relate. Find an empty corner. Tighten your knees. Rock back and forth. Welcome to the community.
We tend to focus on the more visible “servants” who have been targeted with viciousness lately, but this fellowship transcends all professions and positions to include all servant-leaders. You feel called not only to do your job well, but also to make people’s lives a little easier. You may only be doing your duty, but you treat people with grace and kindness. In our post-COVID era, anyone who does that stands out, and if that describes your heart, you are a servant-leader.
You don’t expect pats on the back. You find satisfaction in meeting the needs of those who depend on you. Whether it’s fetching someone’s coffee, handling an insurance claim, or volunteering, you find joy in service, but it’s increasingly difficult to escape. the temptation to feel unwanted, unappreciated and unwelcome. You never expected accolades or recognition, but neither did you expect to be attacked, vilified or demonized. I have never seen this happen on such a large scale.
Remarkably, this can happen simply because someone works in a particular company, position, or profession. People put on their Cable News glasses and just assume they have a right to dehumanize you. Consequently, many servant-leaders grow weary of doing well. Losing confidence in their vocation. Questioning their value. You wonder if it’s worth it. This is frightening, for when our servant-leaders tire of doing good, then we are faced with a graceless world.
If you are currently feeling unwanted, unwanted, or unappreciated, know that you are not alone. Others like you are also tempted to feel this, and while it may be cold comforting, I hope you realize that in times of darkness, grace abounds even more. Your kind word in the drive-thru lane. Your happy voice when you answer your company phone. Your gracious response (or non-response) to an email. You never know what can keep another person whole a little longer, because they too are hurting, and hurting people hurts people. Over time, the seeds of grace you sow faithfully can sprout eternal fruit within them, just as the seeds of grace planted in us by others have sustained us through difficult times. The more you feel unwelcome, unwanted or unappreciated, the more you can certainly know that you are needed, perhaps more than ever!
Please never tire of doing good, servant-leaders, and to the extent possible, make sure other servant-leaders know how much you welcome, want, and appreciate them. They may not expect pats on the back, but the touch is welcome and everyone deserves to be noticed once in a while. In time, the bread you cast upon the waters will come back to you for a feast of joy and reconciliation, much like an inverted supply chain of joy. You’ve been called out for a time like this, but if you occasionally have to hug your knees and rock gently into a corner, that’s okay too. You are in good company.
Tom Deighan is Superintendent of Duncan Public Schools. You can email him at [email protected] com and read past articles at www. mosteducational.com