During the past few weeks, the word “virtual” has taken on new meaning for me. I have been forced to provide virtual teaching for students, attend virtual meetings with colleagues, supervisors and parents, do professional development virtually, and the list goes on. I am sure that many of you have joined me in this virtual world, trying to do our jobs and accomplish daily routines in a different way. Things that take me a few seconds in person have taken me hours to develop online.
The face-to-face contact that virtual technology provides, when it is live, allows us to see each other’s facial expressions, body language, etc. Also, I am grateful that on a Sunday morning, through live streaming, my family and I have had the opportunity to gather around our television via computer and still hear the word.
These are the benefits of our virtual world, but here are some cons. I have to record lessons on video. For a few minutes, I speak to my students with excitement. Immediately, I can turn my excitement off with one button, “Stop.” In reality, or in person, there is no Stop or Pause, because I know from their expressions, body language, or immediate questions when they don’t grasp what I am teaching, and I reframe it and pull out all my tools until they understand.
My job is to teach students to read and comprehend. Interestingly enough, Merriam-Webster defines virtual as “being on or simulated on a computer or computer network.” Merriam-Webster also defines it as being “a hypothetical particle whose existence is inferred from direct evidence.”
My point is words like “simulated,” “hypothetical,” and “inferred” imply that virtual may not always be real. Thankfully, our elders have still been able to deliver the word through His inspiration, but it has been adapted or simulated by the mere fact that the congregation is not physically there. In many of their introductory comments, they have confessed, “This is different.” In spite of this, I have seen the brothers touched by His power and Spirit. This is an exception to the rule.
Virtue, on the other hand, is different than virtual. Webster defines virtue as “a conformity to a standard of right: morality; a particular moral excellence; a commendable quality or trait.” These definitions take on more “real” meaning than virtual.
In pondering these two words, I am going to strive for virtue. In my present virtual world, my colleagues joke that we only have to look good from the waist up, and we don’t even have to comb the back of our hair since we are not there in person. This is not real and certainly not how I would come to work.
In examining the meaning of the word “virtue,” striving for moral excellence is more pleasing to our Lord. We cannot hide, put on a different face, or be fake from the waist down. He knows our thoughts. As the scripture states in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Even though we may be constrained to perform our tasks virtually, it is very possible to reach the moral standard of excellence, virtue, by shining our lights through words, actions, thoughts, and sincerity in deeds.
Thinking on these things, which will we choose today, virtue or virtual?
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.