In his re-telling of the familiar story of the loaves and fishes at Biennial Conference 2008 in Tampa, Parker Palmer challenged us to re-think the role of leaders and our assumptions about scarcity and abundance.
Surveying the large and hungry crowd before them, the apostles see only scarcity. There are far too many people and no prospect of feeding them. Anyway, it had been a long day, and they were tired. Where the apostles see weariness and want, however, Jesus sees abundance and possibility. He does not accept scarcity as the only reality. So he tells the apostles to go among the people and gather what is there. The crowd comes together in small groups and, miraculously, the people are fed.
Jesus challenges the apostles’ assumptions and re-frames reality. He refuses to be bowed or discouraged by what is not there, but works with what is there. In sending the apostles out among the people, he helps them to see and understand the “problem” in new ways.
Now, none of us has the power to transform loaves and fishes. But we do have the power re-frame assumptions and take action for the common good. In the face of economic and material hardship in our lives, schools, nation, and world, can we honor the abundance and possibility that remains? Can we trust that, through collective action, resources can be shared and the multitudes fed?
If you haven’t already, I urge you to read Dan Heischman’s article “Steering the Wheel in Tough Times” in the February issue of Network, and share it with your colleagues. Dan offers ways that Episcopal schools can confront and re-frame the challenges of the current economic climate and lead our school communities with courage and wisdom.
How is your school responding?