The Matter of Priorities

North American April 11, 2022

In 1 Kings 3, Solomon receives an amazing question from God: “God said, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’” As an educator, what would you do if God asked you this? Would you ask for a new building? More students? Needed faculty? A large endowment? “Solomon said: ‘Give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil’” (1 Kings 3:9).

Was it a good choice? Scripture records that “the speech pleased the LORD” (1 Kings 3:10). God said to Solomon, “See, I have given you a wise and understanding heart…. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor” (1 Kings 3:13).

Did Solomon’s choice make a difference? Consider the experience of a visitor to Solomon’s kingdom. When the queen of Sheba heard about Solomon’s wisdom, she came to test him, and he was able to answer all her questions (1 Kings 10:1-3).

If we imagine Solomon’s court as a school, there are many lessons to find. The Queen of Sheba came because she had heard that something remarkable was taking place, something that placed God in a position of honor. She did not simply accept what she heard, however. She asked probing questions and the leaders of the school were able to share with her the reason for each aspect of the program. 

What else impressed her? “She was amazed at the food on his tables, the organization of his officials and their splendid clothing, the cup-bearers, and the burnt offerings Solomon made at the Temple of the LORD” (1 Kings 10:5). She noticed that the food served was different from that provided in the schools with which she was familiar. She observed the way the school was organized, with delegation of authority and responsibility. She was impressed with the distinctive way those at the school were dressed. She noticed that the staff were faithful, trustworthy, and committed to service. Finally, she was amazed with the way the worship of God was integrated throughout the educational program.

After reviewing the school, what did the Queen conclude? “‘Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true!’” she announced. “‘In fact, I had not heard the half of it!’” Then she added, “‘How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day!’” (1 Kings 10:6-8).

What were the results? The Queen of Sheba exclaimed, “‘Praise the LORD your God, who delights in you and has placed you on the throne’” (1 Kings 10:9). The most important outcome is that the success is attributed to the blessing of God. But there was more: “Then she gave the king a gift—9,000 pounds of gold, great quantities of spices, and precious jewels” (1 Kings 10:10). The school receives a major gift, an indication of the appreciation and confidence that she has in the school.

Priorities matter. When we prioritize wisdom from the Lord, our schools thrive.

Author

John Wesley Taylor V, PhD, is Associate Director of Education at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He has served as teacher and educational administrator in North America, Latin America, and Asia, and in elementary, secondary, and higher education settings. He is a friend of young people and a colleague of teachers.

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