Apparently I’m cold and unfair! What has provoked this? The answer is that I choose not to lose sleep over the challenges that the private school sector face as a result of COVD-19. The Economist has written an article explaining that schools have been hit financially and the ongoing crisis is likely to lead to a restructuring of the sector.
I’m not losing much sleep over this one because before I hit the paywall limit on the article I read these lines
“Before covid struck,” Mr Lauder [a school headteacher] notes, “we already knew the market was reshaping. This is a catalyst to that reshaping.”
Now, the sad reality is that a crisis like COVID-19 is going to hasten the reshaping of a number of sectors. So why should I get emotionally attached to one particular market sector. The person who accused me of being cold so my lack of concern for the restructuring of the Private School market as somehow evidence that I did not care about the families who will be affected and the disruption caused to some children’s education.
So, let me be explicitly clear here. If friends were affected by this, e.g. had to move their child to another school or found their jobs under threat, then I would be concerned for them and want to support them as much as possible. I don’t have anything against a family deciding to avail themselves of private education if it is available to them. Indeed, I remember when someone got grumpy about our missions giving because they found out that someone we supported had made the decision to send a child to a private school. My view was that once we had made a commitment to give at a certain level, providing sin was not involved and providing they were not living beyond their means, then it was their choice how and where they spent their income just as it is our choice where we spend ours.
We can distinguish concern for people from concern or lack of it from institutions and systems. And that’s the point, I don’t lose sleep over the system. I care about seeing families looked after and children educated. Those are good things to care about but I don’t have to care about the means of delivering those things. And furthermore, it is possible for me to disagree with private education on principle without being judgemental towards those who choose differently.
However, I don’t really want to talk about private schooling and its pros and cons. I do want to talk about what we lose sleep over. More specifically I want to talk about what others expect us to lose sleep over.
As I explained in the specific example, the reason I am not losing sleep about this one issue is because I have so much more to lose sleep about. I’m concerned about children who have been severely disadvantage in our community because their schools had to close, about asylum seekers whose education is consistently disrupted as the Home Office moves them on, about people struggling to put food on the table and about local state schools whose budgets fall well short of what they need.
Newspapers, news channels, blogs, social media and my friends are constantly bombarding me with causes that I am meant to feel sad, angry and passionate about. I cannot have the same passion about everything. My lack of enthusiasm for this or that cause does not mean that the cause itself lacks value or that I judge you for being passionate about it. It is just that we all have a finite capacity in terms of time, energy, and resources.
This is true for church life as well. As a pastor I am also constantly bombarded with mailings about specific causes that are vital and that we really need to get behind as a church. It’s not just about distinguishing gospel causes from mercy mission causes either. We get information about lots of mission agencies, I am asked if we will receive prayer letters and give to lots of different worthy gospel causes.
So, if your particular cause doesn’t get someone’s support or interest, don’t be discouraged, don’t lose sleep over it. This doesn’t indicate a value judgement of the rightness or worth of what you are doing or have invested your life in. Keep persevering. There will be others out there who share your passion.
And, conversely, don’t feel under pressure to pray for, read about or financial support every good cause that comes your way. Keep your attention firmly fixed on sharing the Gospel and don’t feel guilty or lose any sleep over the causes you cannot commit to.