There they sit, ready for their very first Bible lesson – all wide-eyed and coy- wriggling and eager – freshly-ironed creases in their brand new clothes; a tumble of excitement and fear and curiosity and eagerness as they collide with a much bigger world. Wonder is alive and ready to fly.
There’s something about those first days at school that refocuses some dreams I have for them as they live life in this thing called school, something that invites a paused reflection on the big-picture purposes of Adventist education. I want to do this right – for them. As I look in their eyes and beyond – into their unfurling souls, yes, there are things I wish for them in their beginning and becoming. In the jumble of all that will transpire over the next twelve years, I have hopes for them:
- I wish that she will come to know deep inside who she is and Whose she is – and that God’s view of her is the one that’s real.
- I wish that he will FLOURISH.
- I wish that she will practice knowing that she “can do all things through Christ” who will strengthen her – every time (Phil 4:13).
- I wish that he will know that he is not just text on a page- numbers, marks, grades- but that he has a precious context; He is one deeply loved.
- I wish that she will stand for biblical truth and right, and know what conviction is.
- I wish that he will not just come to know about Jesus, but come to know Him and choose Him as his forever Friend (the one decision that matters in this pinprick of time-on-earth.)
This is some of what I wish.
And in the layers of paperwork that will dominate my life – and the whirl of teaching and learning and tracking and checking that will swallow me whole (through that thing called assessment), I want these wishes to invade my choices – for him. For her. For them, for I will always teach children, not subjects. So I will:
- Choose to nurture her MIND AND her HEART, for her spiritual growth will involve BOTH. But I will separate these in my mind, for they require two very different approaches.
- I will choose to stretch his mind through critical, creative and reflective thinking, offering him continual feedback and rich learning experiences inviting him to own his learning and share his voice. And I will always tell the truth about his work – in love.
- I will choose to encourage her heart through words and actions, a light in my eyes, and an awe in my voice. I will connect, encourage and share how I see God changing her heart. And I will choose to never reach for my grade-book in this – for heart-faith is much larger, and broader and more deeply faceted than what can be captured through the scratchings of a pen, or the typing of scores.
- I will choose to NOTICE – and care about the spiritual pulse of his heart toward God – knowing this is individual, personal and incremental.
- And I will not get these two purposes confused.
Behind all the quantifying, and beneath all the scores, I will know that God seeks intimacy and transformation for him, for her. This will always involve Himself, so He’s going to want me to stay close to Him in this adventure.
And that makes me smile.