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Ofsted is coming – Look busy!

December 2, 2017

Ofsted! That is a word to strike fear into the heart of any teacher or school governor.

Ofsted! I can feel a cold shiver of dread go down my spine right now.

I am a governor for two church schools and both are about due for an Ofsted inspection. I know that it is coming, but I don’t know when. Will it be next week? Will it be before Christmas? Will it be next year? I don’t know, no one here knows. Only Ofsted know, and they are not telling.

I’m waiting on tenter-hooks, along with my fellow governors, the head teachers and school staff. We’re waiting for a phone call one morning saying that an inspector will arrive first thing the next day.

What can we do? Panic? Well that’s certainly a real temptation. What we can do, what we are doing is what we always do: We are making absolutely sure that we have the best possible school, at all times. We can work hard to all children in our care get the very best start that we can give them, academically, morally and spiritually. Then we should have nothing to fear!

I don’t like to compare Jesus with Ofsted, but there are real similarities between the coming of Ofsted and Jesus’ return.

I know that Ofsted will come, but I don’t know when. I know for certain that Jesus will return but again I have no idea when. I also know that when that day comes, I won’t get a phone call the day before, or even an hour before. No, Jesus will just appear. Ofsted keep you waiting until they are ready to visit. Jesus is the same. He is waiting for the Father to reveal the time. But Ofsted come every few years and Jesus has been due back for the last two thousand years. Like the thought of an Ofsted inspector, the though of the judgement of Jesus instantly fills me with fear. All that God has done in me instantly vanish from my mind. I only remember my many faults and failings. That fear leads me to a frantic panic to get ready.

Jesus may be taking his time but I know he will return, and it could be in my lifetime; it could be tomorrow, or anytime. So how can I get ready? That again is very similar to getting ready for Ofsted. Firstly, I need to stop my pointless panicking. Like getting ready for Ofsted I must focus on my life; I must make sure that my life is the very best it can be.

Then the Spirit breaks in. In all my fear and panic I’d been blocking him out. I hear the Spirit speak gently, I hear, and my headless chicken act begins to stop. The Spirit speaks and I hear that if I’m living as God wants me to live I should have nothing to fear. I hear that and, amazingly, a little of my fear steps aside. I can still feel it near by, but for now at least, I can think again.

The Spirit speaks and I find that part of me is looking forward to Jesus’ return. I remember that when that day comes I will finally meet Jesus, face to face. As the Spirit gets to work I realise that when that day comes I don’t mind being nervous and excited. I pray that there won’t be fear to spoil that big day,… I look up and some of my fear seems to have slipped away.

My mind is clearing now and I realise that unlike the shrinking budgets of my schools, I will have all the wealth of God to help me to be ready. I have God’s son on my side. I have the Holy Spirit in me, working away with me to help me to be more loving, more generous, more kind and self-controlled: In short helping me to be more like Jesus: A little more fear slips away.

There is though one particular difference between the return of Ofsted and the return of Jesus: the person doing the inspection. As I wait for Ofsted I’m concerned about who they will send. Will it be someone cold, and only interested in their tick-boxes; or will it be someone who will listen and understand our school? But as I wait for Jesus, well, I’m waiting for the one I love. There really is no comparison. I am waiting for the Lord of all things, but who is Love itself, merciful and forgiving. The one who as he was tortured to death, prayed, “Father forgive!”

I now really start to feel my fear retreat. I am his, not because of my effort but because of his love for me. I know Jesus and I know that I can trust him. Now I want to work even harder to get ready for his return. Not because I am afraid. No, his love is driving out my fear of punishment. I am not working out of fear. I am working to be more like the one I love. I feel my fear slink away some more.

These thoughts of Jesus’ return have been a good reminder to me not to let my faith slip. But no, I need to forget about that, focus on Jesus, and let the Spirit get on with the work of getting me ready to meet him!

My fear is now nowhere to be seen. My faith is far from perfect so I know my fear will return. But for now, I enjoy the peace of the Spirit, and look forward to Jesus welcoming me home.

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