There are qualities that one would expect to find of a leader in any type of school—Anglican, Muslim, State. For example one would expect a leader to be: a person of integrity, keen to ensure that best-practice teaching and learning strategies are operating in their school, a fluent communicator, a good listener, a team player and team builder, able to make tough decisions and ready to be accountable.
But what other qualities might one expect to find in a leader serving in an Anglican school? What might a teacher in an Anglican school expect of their leaders? Following are four suggestions:
1. A leader in an Anglican school will be involved in a relentless pursuit of godliness.
The fundamental purpose of the leader's life will be to honour the Lord Jesus Christ. That will be their heart's desire, grounded in a deep, personal relationship with the Lord. Very aware of their own sin, they will humbly rejoice in the salvation once for all achieved by the Lord Jesus on the cross and in pursuing godliness, aspire to say along with the apostle Paul, Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (I Corinthians 11:1).
As it was for Paul, prayer will be a leader's high priority. Paul prayed for those he served. More than that, he told them he was praying for them and more than that, he asked them to pray for him. A leader in an Anglican school will pray with and for their colleagues, students and parents. They will cultivate a prayerful culture in their school community which, among other things, will be a reminder to all of their utter dependence on the Lord.
2. A leader in an Anglican School will have an absolute and unswerving commitment to the authority of the Bible.
The Bible is our final authority for what we believe and how we are to live. In an Anglican school, a leader will be committed to an 'Anglican' understanding of the Bible's essential teaching, expressed for example in the five Reformation 'alones': Scripture alone, by Faith alone, by Grace alone, through Christ alone and Glory to God alone, or in ‘The Thirty-nine Articles‘ with their resounding emphasis on God's grace and sovereignty (see Articles X and XVII).
A leader in an Anglican school will be able to articulate such profound truths and will be utterly gripped by them. As with the prophet Jeremiah, they will be in the leader's heart like a burning fire.
3. A leader in an Anglican School will seek to shape policies and curriculum n the light of the Bible's teaching.
The Diocesan Policy Statement on Education (2007) makes it clear that a Christian approach to education is deeply informed by biblical theology and worldview. It creates learning situations where the true knowledge of God, of the world and of ourselves can be explored and embraced.
Shaping policies and curriculum in the light of the Bible's teaching is no easy task. Nevertheless it is an ongoing, collegial priority. It is the pathway to bona fide educational excellence. A leader in an Anglican school understands that authentic education involves students in learning about how the world really is; learning the truth about God, His world and our place in it.
Therefore an Anglican school curriculum will make clear the Biblical foundations of every area of learning and what the Bible has to say about issues arising from the study of each subject. There is rich Biblical data to call on in this endeavour, e.g., what the Bible teaches about God and his relationship to humanity and the creation; what it means to be human; the Creation/Fall/Restoration metanarrative. Such truths should not only inform our educational practice; they should in fact drive it, as we keep our ‘L plates’ firmly on. It is understood that to deny students this learning is to leave them with a distorted view of reality and ultimately a truncated view of God and the Gospel.
A vision-minded leader in an Anglican School will be the instigator of challenging conversations, the aim of which is to encourage and inspire teachers in the direction of bringing biblical imperatives into the total life of their school. Furthermore, leaders will need to ensure that their colleagues are trained and equipped with the tools to begin and continue such an educational adventure. What is being suggested here is that the privileged task of a leader in an Anglican School is to ensure that the Word and the Gospel are experienced as relevant to every aspect of the life of their school, or the section of the school for which they are responsible.
4. A leader in an Anglican School will take seriously their role as a servant leader.
Following are four aspects of servant leadership:
a) Serving First and foremost, the heart's desire of a leader will be to serve and not for self-aggrandisement. If at some time they find they could serve the Lord better in a different role or a different place, they will be ready to do so. Their sense of identity is found in their relationship with the Lord, not in their leadership role. They are dead to self-centred ambition. Their life's aim and career goal is to please their Master whom they serve.
b) Peacemaking As a leader, it is not possible to be at peace with all stakeholders all of the time. A leader in an Anglican school however will aim to love, listen, forgive, heal and resolve conflict. They will not allow wounded relationships to fester—neither their own nor those of others in the school community. They will be peacemakers.
c) Honouring By both instruction and modelling, the leader will remind colleagues that students, parents and other colleagues have been created in God's image and each reflects aspects of their Maker in a unique way. Consequently, each and every member of the school community is to be treated with respect and dignity. At all times they are to be honoured. No-one is ever to be maligned or belittled. For example, staff are never to talk disparagingly about students or parents behind their backs. A leader will insist on this Christian attitude and behaviour because our aim is to be like Jesus; our aim is to serve (see Philippians 2:3-11).
d) Being Accountable A leader in an Anglican school will be open to scrutiny and accountability. They will welcome feedback from colleagues, students and parents. Indeed, if they are wise, they will invite feedback. They know that like the vast majority of leaders throughout the Biblical story, they are riddled with faults and failures. However they also know that God's strength shows up best in weak people and they want to lead faithfully and competently and further develop their gifts and abilities. In so doing, they will honour the Lord and those to whom they are accountable.
Is all this expecting too much? Is it unrealistic? Impracticable? A pipedream? It seems to me that these are reasonable expectations of a leader in an Anglican school. Indeed, if we are serious about the Lordship of Jesus and his Word, really, they are non-negotiable.
George Glanville, 2011