Toy shopping with your children…fun, right? Wrong? I can only imagine how many of you are torn because you want to say it’s fun, but the feast of possibilities for your kiddos can turn the experience into one giant aversion of a meltdown. Take my boys for example. Isaac (7) and Ezra (5) each had $20 to spend. It would make an awesome real life math problem to figure out how many different combinations of things they could purchase with their money. When they finally did choose, they had a hard time being fully excited for what they bought because they were thinking about all the things they couldn’t buy.
I think that as people get older, we don’t really grow out of that. We job jump, house jump, spouse jump, school jump. We fill our houses back up with junk that we purchased with the money we just got from the junk we sold at our last garage sale. We’re always looking for new things to connect us to our present with hopes that it will last in the future. But it rarely does. And why? I propose that it is because people fail to truly connect with the two things that Jesus connected with: mission and people.
Take a moment and think about these two words: mission and people. Let’s break them down.
Mission – a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling. The mission of a school matters, but only if it is what drives the decisions and the work of the school. Imagine that hotel with proudly posted banners touting their amazing customer service, only to find that the concierge ignores you and expects a tip for any piece of information that he provides. Customer service?
On the other hand, I recently visited a STEM school in Chattanooga whose mission emphasizes innovation, critical thinking, and collaboration. I had been in the school for four whole hours and I can attest that the student work and experiences were directly tied to their mission as a school.
But mission is only part of the puzzle.
People – human beings in general or considered collectively. People can very easily be confused with person. It is really easy to be frustrated with a person. But when you can see the forest instead of the trees (i.e. the people instead of the person), you should find that those people enhance the mission that the school is promoting.
If you are a parent of children in primary or secondary school, I truly believe that the two keys to choosing the right school for your child rest in both the mission of the school and the people you connect with.
I’ve been living back in Indiana now for over five years and I’ve been at the same church for the entire five years. An acquaintance of mine recently emailed to ask the following question: “What are some reasons that keep your family at your church?” My response was as follows:
“For the Allens, we commit to [our church] because of the mission and the people. Any mission can be loved on paper, but we see it in action. The people couldn’t have been known until we got involved. And once we did, we just found more people who believed in the mission of reaching people far from God in order to help them experience Jesus. We see it as the way Jesus operated in his time on earth as well – mission and people. Once those two things were clear for us, it was no question that [this church] would be our church home.”
If you can say without a doubt that you see a mission that you are passionate about being played out by the people of the school, you’ve found it. You’ve found your school. Being connected to the mission and the people makes for a full experience, one that allows you to know others and be known by others. It makes the celebrations more personal. It helps frame the frustrations with a more healthy perspective. But most of all, it is purposeful. Education and experience are active choices, not passive. So educate yourself! Tour schools. Talk to the “people.” Ask the tough questions. And then move forward with confidence that the mission and the people will carry everything forward.
Michael W. Allen
Head of School
Evansville Christian School