Instruments of Peace

By Marianne Vangoor  |  March 7th

I don’t know about you, but I am struggling to watch the news and read newspapers these days.  I want to be informed, but find the reports of war, division, strife, and anger difficult to process. The turmoil, pain and destruction of the war in Ukraine, raucous “debates” in the House of Commons, convoys, police out in force on the streets of our nation’s capital, rising inflation—these and other headlines make this a challenging time to navigate on many levels. I know some of these issues have splintered families (mine included), school communities, and even churches. It appears that in many incidences people have stopped talking with each other and have moved to talking at each other, often from the platform of social media or in emails written in a moment of anger and irritation. Active listening to others to gain perspective does not appear to be a skill that is often used, and divisions and ultimatums rule the day. This is the culture and climate in which you must lead your schools!

What is leadership to look like in these times? How do we navigate the turbulent waters that surround us on many levels? Although I cannot fully answer that question for you, I can share that I have found personal comfort and challenge in Romans 12. I encourage you to take a few minutes and read the full chapter, as I believe it will ground and guide your leadership, even in the turbulent times in which we live. 

Then take a few minutes and focus on the familiar words of verse 18: “…if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” When I read this, I want to say, “But Paul, you don’t know this parent, or the challenges I am facing in my family or school community. You don’t understand the tensions I am caught in!” However, I soon remember Paul did face his own challenges in which he endured. Paul reminds us of what our Saviour suffered on our behalf: “Christ, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philipp. 2:6-8. 

As a leader following the example and command of Christ, I am charged to work towards unity among believers. I am to actively listen, serve others, and to hold truth and compassion together. I am to create spaces of hospitality where those who may have a different perspective are welcomed and respected. In the words of Terry Smith in The Hospitable Leader, “leaders are to warm the hearts of those who are leading...for when a leader warms hearts, he/she can lead them to more – more listening, more understanding, and ultimately more unity and peace.” So as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Pray for peace and model grace and hope. May God give each of us the grace and strength to do this each day! Lord, may we be instruments of Your peace!

Marianne Vangoor is the Director of Leadership at Edvance