False and Great Expectations

by Chris Schoenleb

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

During Christmas break this year, I had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas with my family. Despite protesting to my wife about leaving -7 degrees temperatures on New Year’s Day, I was obligated to help her complete one of her bucket list items. So, like almost every other visitor, our family took a stroll down the Vegas strip to watch opulent water shows, the colorful characters on the sidewalk, and to take in the lights.

As we cut through one of the casinos, I began telling my son about the different games in the room and, being a dutiful father, I gave the cautionary speech about the potential pitfalls of gambling with the stacked odds that enable the casinos to build the extravagant buildings. As we watched the gamers from a distance, I was struck by a generally negative vibe in the room. Nobody was smiling. As we walked through a couple of other casinos my son and I challenged each other to find anyone smiling at a table or slot machine. We were unsuccessful in our quest.

What a contrast to the advertisements and the excitement many of us see in people who talk about travel plans to the city. A better nick name for “sin city” may be the “city of false expectations.”

What a contrast to many of our Lutheran schools! Many of us (particularly in the Chicago area) work in old buildings that could, at best, be described as nostalgic. But the vibe in the buildings is uplifting. It would be difficult to walk down the hallways or look in the classrooms and NOT find students and staff members smiling. Even when students aren’t smiling and are sometimes crying, there’s an underlying current of hope in our school communities. For our teachers and staff members are not looking “to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen (such as luxurious buildings and the temporary thrill of beating the odds to win money) are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

For many Lutheran administrators, it can be easy to fall into the trap of the visible world and the Vegas-like façades and bountiful budgets of our counterparts in the public schools. But the joy of witnessing a student baptism or the joy of watching alumni choosing a career where they are sharing God’s Word gives us a glimpse of the eternal difference we are making as His servants.

As we enter the tough winter months and you find yourself getting bogged down at your desk with the daily grind of leading a school, take a deliberate break and walk through your hallways, visit a classroom, and talk with your students. The visibility of their enthusiasm, of their struggles, and their daily grind is a great reminder of our mission and will help lift your spirit.

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Chris Schoenleb is the Executive Director of Faith Lutheran High School in Crystal Lake, IL. He can be reached at schoenleb@faithlhs.org.