Things are changing. Really, I am changing. Every day I understand that I am less likely to double my years on this earth than ever before. I didn’t think about this in my twenties and thirties. In those days, long-term thinking meant thinking about what I would do over the weekend.
Now, however, I am thinking about what life will be like for those I love after I am gone. What will they do? How will they think? What will they teach my grandchildren and great grandchildren? What kind of world will it be? What moral questions will they encounter? What will be their economic reality?
Questions like these bombard my mind like never before, and the barrage causes me to think, to think about investing and leaving a legacy. Such thinking naturally affects how I raise my children, and it causes me to wrestle with two inescapable truths.
First, I wrestle with the fact that I will invest in my children either intentionally or haphazardly. While there is a financial component to the subject of investing, there is a broader way to understand the term. Beyond making investments with our money, I will make investments with my time. I will make investments with my talents and my words. All of these investments are part of the legacy I leave to those I love.
As parents, we understand that one incredible responsibility we have is to make decisions for our children as we equip them to make their own decisions as adults. Consequently, one massive way we invest in our children that will greatly impact the future is our educational choices. In the span of one school year, students spend around 1260 hours in school. For over 1200 hours they will be taught by someone, and they will be taught something.
The theology, morality, and core values of the teacher will be the theology, morality, and core values of the classroom, a classroom where your child will spend more than 1200 hours. How much influence can one exert in that amount of time?
In addition, the theology, morality, and core values of the curriculum will supply the raw material of instruction for the student. That means the deepest beliefs of authors you will never meet and curriculum committees you may or may not know make a deep impact on each student, as they interact with the material for over 1200 hours.
As Christian parents, we dare not approach this lightly. It is critically important that we develop strategic partnerships with educations, partnerships were both parents and schools have the same values and share the same goals.
The sheer importance of this leads me to consider a second inescapable truth. We find it in the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 6:40. There, Jesus tells us, “A disciple (student) is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” This verse teaches us that one massive outcome of education is imitation. In small and large ways, the student will become like the ones they have spent over 1200 hours with.
I was reminded of the power of this recently. One requirement for my doctrinal studies was a one-year mentorship with my major professor, Dr. John Hammett. Every week I sat in his office as we discussed the history of theology as well as large doses of practical ministry. Outside of this time, I had massive amounts of reading that he assigned each week. He especially loved to teach about the doctrine of the church and its importance in the Christian life, so we spent a great deal of time reading and discussing the subject. I confess as I went through this phase of the program I thought that I was fulfilling a requirement. Don’t get me wrong, I was glad to do it, but I did not fully understand the long-range implication.
That all changed a few weeks ago. I was leading a congregation through what the Bible says about the church. I was making an impassioned appeal about the importance of the church for a healthy Christian life. As soon as I finished, a thought came to my mind. “I sounded an awful lot like Dr. Hammett tonight.” I immediately understood what had happened. Over time his convictions about the church had somehow become my convictions. The disciple was becoming like the teacher.
This process is happening every day at our school. It is this understanding that shapes how we approach teaching. It shapes, for example, the kind of teachers we hire. As a school, we look for teachers who are pursuing a calling and not just looking for a job. If someone is looking for a job, they can look elsewhere. If someone is called by God to invest more than 1200 hours per year to shape the next generation, they are CLA material.
This also affects the kind of teaching we must do. We understand that we are accountable to God for every minute of those 1200 hours. We must, therefore, work with focused excellence. We are focused on transformational, whole-person education. We are focused on giving our best. We are focused on investing. We are focused on leaving a legacy. We are focused, because we know we are accountable to God.
As a parent, I am glad to invest in my children through the ministry of CLA. I believe it will be a legacy that will affect generations of Arnolds for the good. I am also thrilled you have joined us on this journey!