Feeling unappreciated, unwanted, or unwelcomed in the post-Covid age?  You are not alone. 

Although this column focuses (mostly) on educational issues, this is not just a school issue. Just about anyone in a “service” position has been tempted to feel this way recently. Service positions include anyone from parents trying to mitigate the soul-crushing influence of social media on their children to business owners fighting to keep people employed during supply-chain issues. Front-line workers might feel the ugliness most, however, as frustrated people can explode over the most trivial of matters. If people rely on you for their livelihoods, their security, or even a fountain drink, you can probably relate. Find an empty corner. Hug your knees. Rock back and forth. Welcome to the fellowship.

We tend to focus on the more visible “servants” who have been targeted with meanness lately, but this fellowship transcends all professions and positions to include all servant-leaders. You feel called to not only do your job well but to also make people’s lives a little easier. You might just be doing your duty, but you treat people with grace and gentleness. In our post-COVID age, anyone who does this stands out, and if this describes your heart, you are a servant-leader.

You do not expect pats on the back. You find satisfaction in meeting the needs of those depending upon you. Whether that means getting someone’s coffee or processing an insurance claim or serving in a volunteer position, you find joy in the service, but it is increasingly harder to escape the temptation to feel unwanted, unappreciated, and unwelcomed. You never expected accolades or recognition, but you also never expected to be attacked, vilified or demonized. I have never witnessed this happen on such a grand scale. 

Remarkably, this can happen simply because someone works in a particular business, position, or profession. People put on their Cable News Goggles and just assume they have the right to dehumanize you. Consequently, many servant-leaders grow weary of well-doing. Losing faith in their calling. Questioning their value. Wondering if it is worth it. That’s scary, for when our servant-leaders weary of well-doing, then we face a world devoid of grace. 

If you currently feel unwelcomed, unwanted, or unappreciated, please know that you are not alone. Others like you are tempted to feel this way as well, and while that may be little comfort, I hope you realize that in times of darkness, grace abounds even more. Your kind word in the drive-thru lane. Your cheerful voice as you answer your company phone. Your gracious reply (or non-reply) to an email. You never know what may keep another person whole for a little while longer, for they are hurting, too, and hurt people hurt people. In time, the seeds of grace you faithfully sow may sprout eternal fruit in them, just as seeds of grace planted in us by others sustained us through tough times. The more you feel unwelcomed, unwanted, or unappreciated – the more you can certainly know you are needed, perhaps more than ever!  

Please do not weary in well-doing, servant-leaders, and whenever possible, make sure other servant-leaders know how much youwelcome, want, and appreciate them. They may not expect pats on the back, but the touch is welcomed, and everyone deserves to be noticed occasionally. In time, the bread you cast upon the waters will return to you for a feast of joy and reconciliation, kind of like a reverse supply chain of joy. You have been called for such a time as this, but if you must occasionally hug your knees and gently rock in the corner, that’s ok, too. You are in the best of company. 

Tom Deighan is superintendent of Duncan Public Schools. You may email him at  deighantom@gmail.com and read past articles at www.mostlyeducational.com