What comes to mind when you hear that someone is “wounded?” Maybe weak, disabled, sidelined, damaged—all having a negative connotation.
Recently, a group of school leaders gathered to examine wounding in the life of a leader, and learn how to prevent wounding to others, and turn personal wounds into strengths. Everyone is susceptible to wounds—you wouldn’t be human if you had none at all—but it was refreshing to examine how wounds can actually strengthen our character, deepen our trust in God, give us greater empathy for the people under our leadership, and make us more effective as a leader and a human being.
Strengthening the Heartbeat is a donor-funded program for experienced school administrators. The three-year cycle is capably spear-headed by Dr. Bruce Hekman from Calvin College. Bruce is joined by Jim DeKorne and David Koetje from CSI, and administrators Glenn Vos and Jack Postma as group leaders.
It was a pleasure to be asked to join this group of experienced school leaders from North America and around the world during their most recent gathering at Calvin College the week before last.
We considered together the topic of Faith Nurture, Leadership, and Wounding. We looked at what the current research on attachment, nurturing, brain research, and the ways that social intelligence research informs how we have been created. We reflected on the role of spiritual disciplines to assist in the healing process. We considered several essential questions:
- How do we respond to wounds inflicted by others and do we trust God to bring good during the healing process?
- How are we as leaders wounding others, whether they are teachers or students?
- How does this wounding encourage or discourage faith in followers?
Finally we considered how institutional structures and practices may create a toxic and wounding culture within a community. Bottom line we recognized that so much of what we do as leaders in Christian schools can either encourage or discourage faith. God grant that we can truly be individuals, schools, and churches that demonstrate both grace and truth.