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LEARNING LOVE

Welcome to this week's Monday message. We were so pleased to hear that last week's message on Offering Encouragement uplifted and comforted so many of you in what must have been an extraordinarily complicated, exhausting and challenging few days. It is our hope at the Foundation to bring you encouragement, refreshement and inspiration as you lead through these days and weeks.

This week's message is focused on the topic of Learning Love. Regardless of what is written on your walls, websites, prospectus or policies, people only truly know your vision and values through experiencing your actions, your words, your diary, your budget. As is often said – vision needs to be lived not laminated.


In this unprecedented season in our schools, this has never been more important, and apparent. Very few of us will have been physically reaching for our school mission statements as we’ve been forced into making an endless stream of often very instinctive decisions – yet those decisions will have revealed much about our vision and values not evident in our words alone.

The leadership practice of Learning Love is not a romantic or rose-tinted love, but rather a love that can only be known in action. This is essential truth of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13, and the educational paraphrase that we share here.

At the heart of education is a simple question to guide us – what does love require?

We will have each had to find from somewhere the resources for the love that our community needs at this time, and while the initial moment of school closure has now passed, there are still immense challenges ahead, both in terms of organising learning, re-imagining education, and also providing remotely the kind of pastoral care that will be needed to sustain people in the growing challenges that lie ahead in terms of suffering, grief and bereavement.

We continue to thank and honour you for all you’re doing in our school system and want to continue to encourage and inspire you and your teams. To close, an extract from Called, Connected, Committed:

“Whether rejoicing in success or dealing with failure, leaders pursue love, around which everything turns and towards which everything should be drawn. This love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Andy Wolfe - Deputy Chief Education Officer (Leadership Development)
Learning Love Reflection (Audio Version) - click here to listen
Learning Love Reflection (Extract)
A Christian vision for leadership is not just about the development of the individual leader or the team, but rather is centred on and defined by the love of God which underpins the entire biblical narrative. This is a love that is unfathomable and indescribable in scale, dimension, time and space: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…” (Ephesians 3:17-18). It is a love that is unconditional and sacrificial: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). It is a love that is gracious, practical, inclusive, dependable, generous, restful, empowering and forgiving.

This love is never proven by words, but only evidenced in actions, and despite all our greatest endeavours, successes, triumphs or accolades, is the central definition of leadership in action.



To read the reflection in full visit: www.cefel.org.uk/love/

Suggested resources to reflect on the concept of Learning Love where you are
Last week, we featured one of the schools that took part in St Paul's Cathedral's #hymnflashmob, sharing their favourite hymns or songs with those who are isolated or vulnerable. Here are pupils from Holy Trinity Primary School in the Diocese of London, singing 'Love the Lord your God with all our heart'.

‘It is a love that is unconditional…’

In this short clip, Henri Nouwen (Christian writer and L'Arche community member) talks about experiencing God’s unconditional love in times of weakness; we are able to love ‘because God has loved you first.’

John Stainer's stunning 'God so loved the world', sung by the choir of St Paul's Cathedral.

‘It is a love that is gracious, practical, inclusive, dependable, generous…'
So many of you are living this kind of love on a daily basis. We have heard stories of SLTs cooking meals for families; staff, clergy and children singing for their neighbours (including the elderly and vulnerable). You are amazing!
Here are two schools, one in Exeter Diocese and one in Leicester Diocese, who are demonstrating their love for their community in practical ways.
Do email us at CEFEL@churchofengland.org or Tweet us @CofE_EduLead #learninglove to share your examples of love in action. We really love hearing them.

'Stand By Me' (sung by the Kingdom Choir)
Although we may be standing at least 2m apart from each other, great love is demonstrated when we stand in solidarity with one another. We stand by all of you who are keeping your schools open, providing remote learning, caring for your families, supporting vulnerable people in your community - loving our children, our communities, our nation and our world. We stand by you.

'It is a love that is restful, empowering and forgiving.’
Corrie Ten Boom and her family hid and thus rescued a number of Jewish people in WW2, facing imprisonment and death. They demonstrated incredible love for others, whilst holding onto the power of forgiveness and being empowered by the knowledge of God's love:

A Prayer for School Leaders

Loving Lord,
We are able to love because you loved us first.
Please remind us each day how utterly loved we are, so we can show that love to others.

To the children we need to care for in our schools.
To the children having to learn from their homes.
To the children who are vulnerable.
To the children who are afraid.

To the staff who are bravely still in their classes.
To the staff tirelessly preparing home learning.
To the staff who are vulnerable.
To the staff who are afraid.

And for ourselves,
Those of us doing our very best to lead safely from our schools.
Those of us frustratingly having to lead out of our homes.
Those of us who are vulnerable.
Those of us who are afraid.

Lord, may we know your love.
Its breadth, its length, its height, its depth.
A love which never ends. Never runs out. Never fails.
Love which is enough for today and more than enough for tomorrow.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Amen
 

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