As the father of two young daughters, we listen to a lot of Disney songs at the Zelenka house. We also sing along to many of these songs as well. One of my favorite is "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast. One of the lines in particular resonates with me deeply:
Life is so unnerving
For a servant who's not serving
He's not whole without a soul to wait upon
Ah, those good old days when we were useful...
I believe that we must approach all that we are doing within Catholic education from the standpoint of service. In this way, we no longer become disgruntled about things like returning phone calls, posting homework, staffing lunch duty, attending the school fundraiser, or completing commitment hours. We recognize that we have a desire to serve the school as ministers of the Catholic education provided here. There is no ulterior motive. There is no desire for reward or status or social clout. We serve ICS and our students because that is what we feel called to do. We serve ICS and our students because we believe in the mission of the school and we want to be faithful to that purpose. We serve because we are thankful. We serve filled with joy. We serve because like Lumiere it makes us more like who we are supposed to be.
With this spirit of service in mind, we must inspire others with our energy. Passion is contagious and it doesn't matter if that passion is positive or negative - it inspires similar feelings in others. The wolf who wins, is the one we feed - positively or negatively. Show your enthusiasm for what you do! I want us to inspire a group that truly enjoys being in community with one another and is more than willing to do the work required to make the educational and ministerial opportunities at our school possible. We can do this by serving others joyfully and passionately. Be authentic. Be specific. Similar to the disciples who can't help but tell about Jesus (when told to tell His disciples to be quiet, Jesus says,“I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!” -Luke 19:40), share your joy about ICS in the same way people post pictures of a good cup of coffee or a decadent dessert or tell others about an outstanding new restaurant or movie. Go and proclaim the story of ICS!
Furthermore, we must push past settling for a conventional approach to education. We must strive for innovation and creativity in designing an educational model that sustains both rigor and fun. We must be open to the Holy Spirit who will lead us and guide us into making our school into something even more incredible than that we can currently imagine ("Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." -Ephesians 3:20-21). Pray for His direction. Pray for His patience. Pray for His wisdom. Trust that He will make the work we are currently undertaking into something special...because He will.
Finally, we must orient ourselves toward two areas of focus: our faith and our children.
This past school year, I set out to lay down my life in complete submission to what God wanted me to do with ICS. I reoriented my areas of focus to faith and academics. I put trust in God that He had called me to be faithful to the mission of the school, not necessarily successful from societal standards.
This year, He has refined this spirit of service even further. I must serve Him and remain faithful to Him. The way in which I see him asking me to do this is through my ministry at ICS. I'm not serving ICS. I am serving Him at ICS.
I would ask the same out of all components of our adult school community. Put God first and remove all that would keep you from following Him. Jesus tells us to do just this. What keeps you from Jesus? Even things that seem good? Cut them out of your life and follow Him!
Pray. Go to Mass. Recommit to your faith. Read scripture. Explore the catechism. Join a Bible study. Make Christ a priority in your life and in the life of your family. Just start by making the sign of the Cross. Be claimed as His.
From there, continue to focus on our children at ICS. They are the reason for our ministry of Catholic education. Be inspired by the awesome young people we have at ICS. Recognize that there is no nobler cause or purpose to perform the service God is calling you to at our great school - our children. Look for those areas of our lives that keep us from being the Catholic educators - teachers or parents - that both He and our children need us to be.
Jesus submitted completely to His Father's Will in service to you and me and everyone. Follow His lead - serve Him, your family, each other and our school.
Hope Will Rise.