I sincerely believe you have one of the hardest jobs in the country.
The parents you interact with each day can be … ahem … neat. Because you're making decisions about their kids, their prized possessions, their greatest blessings, their sweetest gifts, the bearers of all their hopes and dreams (no pressure, kids).
Many of you don’t get the luxury of passing the hard ones on to the next guy up. You are the next guy up. You make tons of decisions that affect tons of people, many decisions that inevitably make at least one party unhappy. Perhaps even a bit rage-y.
You have very little time to yourself. You leave school and go straight to choir concerts to volleyball games to UIL competitions to school board meetings to soccer games.
We see the time and energy your job requires. You work incredibly hard. And for that, we thank you.
I know what I’m about to say won’t apply to many of you. I know the vast majority of you are men and women of great character; which is why you do what you do.
But there are others of you who are feeling immense pressure from outside sources, who are swinging back and forth between standing up and sitting down, wondering whether or not you should give in.
So I say this with the understanding that you have anxieties weighing you down every single day, coupled with the understanding that others in this business are depending on your integrity in order to do their job well.
Please, stop pandering to the parents. Stop playing their game. Stop letting them win when they shouldn’t. Stop letting politics, money, power, or threats dictate right and wrong, good and bad.
We’ve got to stop blaming the parents for the epidemic. Parents are always going to be passionate when advocating for their kids. Rightfully so, to some extent.
But you, you are the voice of reason and logic, and our schools need you and your integrity.
My favorite flannel-graph bible class story is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3).
King Nebuchadnezzar (let’s call him, Exhibit Dad) built a huge idol (let’s call this idol, Exhibit Dad’s Kid). He then went to all the officials in the land and gathered them together so they could bow down to this huge idol, too.
Well, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the throng that day, three young boys who were low on the totem pole, and knew what they were expected to do.
“Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
Well the story goes, they didn’t bow down. They stood tall and when asked why they replied, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18)
They trusted that God would honor their integrity. They trusted, to the point in which they stake their lives on it, that he would uphold his promise to protect them, whether that be in this life or the next.
They believed that doing what was RIGHT was more important than doing what was EASY, because they had faith that God was bigger and stronger and more powerful than any Dad. I mean Mom. I mean King.
They didn’t bow down. They didn’t back down.
And then. They were thrown into the fire.
You see, God didn’t spare them from the fire. They were still thrown in. Those boys were thrown into a pit of flames so hot it killed the guards who threw them in. They were tossed into towering flames and surely the crowd gasped at the inhumanity of it all.
But then that crowd (and that king) looked up and saw it. They were not alone. Three men were tossed into the flames. Four men were in the furnace.
God was there. In it. He may have allowed them to go into the fire, but He went into the flames, too. He stood there next to them and protected them from the heat so the fire wouldn't destroy them.
And the beauty of the whole story is found in King Nebuchadnezzar’s response: “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God” (Daniel 3:28)
Not only did their defiance not kill them, but their decision to stand up to the King was eventually what saved his very soul.
Your decision to walk boldly and with integrity might be exactly what someone needs in order to experience the love, goodness, and purpose of Christ.
Ultimately, it comes down to trust.
Do you trust that God is more powerful than the other guy?
Do you trust that God will honor your integrity?
Do you trust that God will stand in the fire with you?
Do you trust that God will pull you out?
And do you trust, that even if he doesn’t, he will restore you?
If you do, then don't bow down to the idol, to someone else's golden calf. Don't bow down to the money or the power or the status.
We give you permission to stand up tall, shoulders back, in defiance. No matter the consequences.
You may be thrown into the fire. But you've got a fireproof God.