Check Your Surroundings

by Sheila Psencik

As a leader, your surroundings are of the utmost importance. Over the years, I have learned that while some of what surrounds me is beyond my control, much of it is within my control with the help of God. Life as an administrator can be lonely at times, and having people that you can trust and count on is imperative. Regardless of your administrative structure, you cannot do this job alone. Every administrator should surround himself or herself with people (formal or informal) who can serve as advisors or leadership team members. The focus of these people should be to improve the greater good rather than advance personal agendas. From large schools to small schools, team ministry is valuable and will help the school leader become the best they can be.

The following suggestions are areas within your control as a leader that will benefit your ministry, your effectiveness, and the faculty, students, and families which you serve.

Surround yourself with people you TRUST. You need to surround yourself with people who understand what confidential means. When you have those people in place, you are able to talk through ideas, situations, and frustrations and know that those discussions will not be shared. This will free you to process thoroughly and come to rational and sound decisions.

Surround yourself with people you can COUNT ON. You need people around you who are competent. Let’s face it, you cannot do everything even though sometimes you try. Every good leader knows that they must delegate at times but without competent people, delegation does not always turn out well. When you have the right people that you can trust to do things with excellence, everyone wins. 

Surround yourself with people who CARE. You are a human being with real feelings and emotions. As a leader, you are expected to wear your game face most of the time but you need to be nurtured just like everyone else. You need people around you who can show you the same care and concern that you are sharing to those you are leading on a daily basis. This may be your spouse, your pastor, your friends…whoever it may be, let your guard down and let them care for you.

Surround yourself with people that will CHALLENGE you. No leader needs a “yes” man, but every leader needs someone who will push them to be their best. It is important that the people who surround you speak up and share their perspective when they have concerns or see things differently. Having that honest voice speaking into your world, will only make you a better leader. Quality leaders welcome constructive criticism and view it as a way to improve.

Surround yourself with OPPORTUNITIES for GROWTH. Great leaders are always looking for ways to expand their knowledge and widen their horizons. Each and every professional opportunity brings about a chance to think about things differently, change, and adapt.  Sometimes, you are being introduced to brand new concepts while other times you may learn to look at something differently than you have seen it before. Either way, each opportunity gives you a chance to examine your own ministry. Being exposed to new or different ideas will give you the chance to reflect on your own practices and contemplate ways to improve. 

Surround yourself with GOD’S WORD. As administrators, difficult situations are not a matter of if, but a matter of when. The answers to every dilemma can be found in God’s Word. In Ephesians 6:13-18, Paul describes the armor of God—the same armor that Christian administrators are to put on everyday as we work to expand God’s kingdom: “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

The Calling to be a Christian school administrator is not easy, it is not glamorous, and sometimes it can be downright miserable. On the flip side, this Calling is also rewarding, fulfilling, and it makes a real difference in the lives of God’s children and their families. Regardless of how you are feeling today, remember that GOD CHOSE YOU! God loves you and will equip you with everything and everyone that you need in order to continue His ministry through you. Open your mind and your heart to what he provides, check your surroundings, and let God get to work!

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Sheila Psencik is Head of School of Lutheran South Academy in Houston, TX and the 2018 Paul Lange Recipient of ALSS. She can be reached at