This morning a friend texted me quite early that she was praying for me. This dear friend and I began our teaching careers together at ECS in 1977, and while she teaches in another corporation now, we still share a love for the Lord and for education. Also, we share an awareness of how hectic this time of year can be. Her encouragement to me, “See the Lord’s blessings despite the busyness of these final weeks of school!”
Such wisdom and encouragement in that statement! During any busy season in life, focus can be on “getting through it” or “finishing well”. However, by choosing to put the emphasis on God’s purpose for these last few weeks of school, my perspective is changed. Instead of checking off a list of events, I can reflect on how God has used ECS in the lives of students and families. Instead of “fast forwarding” to the end of the year, I can concentrate on the joy of relationships among our ECS community and His faithfulness to us throughout this school year. There will be no “rewinding” of this time once it is gone, so busyness cannot replace what is at the core of God’s heart – loving Him and loving people.
God is for us! He speaks encouragement to our hearts, He is present when we bear one another’s burdens, and He understands both the joy of working together and the bittersweet emotions of saying goodbye at the end of the school year.
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31
Recently Dr. Vernard Gant, from ACSI, conducted an in-service for our entire staff, as well as a special session for our 7th and 8th grade students on Inclusive Christian Schooling and the topic of “difference-ism.” Difference-ism is Dr. Gant’s term for the practice of allowing God-created, -ordained, and -allowed diversity to be the basis for division, discrimination, distance, and destruction. A person becomes a “difference-ist” when he/she uses differences as the basis for how they view or treat others.
He challenged our students and staff to be Difference Makers, not difference-ists. He stressed that we should not seek to destroy differences or pretend they are not there, but acknowledge them and embrace them as God’s design (Genesis 11).
He led an exercise for our staff and found that our staff was “united and like-minded” indicating good vision and collaboration that will allow us to move forward and is an indicator of our school’s health as a kingdom-building school. He challenged us to “stay the course.” Other highlights of his presentation included:
- Any school can be great with students who “don’t need grace.” Only a Christian school can really help transform a life.
- Make sure there is an “on-ramp” for students who are joining our school so they can adjust to our culture and expectations. Consider the parents, not just the students.
- A Christian school should strive for having differences to reflect God’s kingdom.
- Referring to those outside of the majority influence — until the lion has his historian, the hunter will always be the hero (African Proverb).
Following the session, we received the following from a parent: I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated you bringing Dr. Gant and his wife to the school to work with the 7th & 8th graders. I think their talk is critical in helping shape the students’ worldview, esp. from a Christian perspective. We don’t fully appreciate that Christianity introduced such “radical” ideas as equality, etc. and we need to understand that to be able to discern counterfeit ideas. I was surprised to learn that what I thought I had taught [my student] as a parent wasn’t fully comprehended and so these type of workshops are very much appreciated.
We are considering his challenges and will use them in the coming school year(s) to engage students, parents, and staff to further be a kingdom-building school of difference makers!