What makes a Christian education successful? I have been principal of a Christian school for the past 15 years, and I have faced this critical and challenging question many times over the years.
Far too often I see parents put intensive pressure on their children to achieve academically, artistically and athletically. While an appropriate amount of pressure is certainly necessary to help our children achieve their full potential, I often find the goal is too focussed on the immediate, without enough focus on the long-term development of the students.
As parents, why do we push our children? Is it so that they will be more ‘successful’ than we are, so that they will have a great deal of money and be able to enjoy ‘the finer things in life’?
My short-term, worldly thinking may be tempted to answer ‘Yes’ to this question. However, as I consider the eternal purpose God has for every one of us, I need to remember that the education we provide our children should be preparing them for something much greater than the temporal life we have on this earth.
The Bible tells us to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).
The temptation for parents is to judge the education a child receives by present-day results. I contend that we should see the education our children receive as the foundation for how they will view the world as adults.
If we believe what Proverbs 22:6 states, then we as parents must understand that the Christ-centred education we provide our children at home, school and church is laying the foundation so that “when they are old, they will not depart from it.”
Even though we do our best to direct our children to follow God, there is no guarantee that the desired results will be immediate. Our children will sometimes test the waters and not listen to the wise counsel of their parents or teachers. The sinful nature can temporarily prevail and leave children believing that they know better than their teachers and parents. This can cause them to make inappropriate choices, yielding to temptation.
I would encourage parents not to be discouraged but to continue to pray and teach their children as God leads.
Over the years, I have seen many parents who, after straying from the Lord for much of their own youth, have chosen to enroll their children at our Christian school. They have come to realize the errors they have made. And they want to ensure that their children receive an education which reflects the Christian values they are now pursuing in the home.
So how will I know whether my Christian school has been successful? I will not find the answer to that question in the financials. I will not find the answer this week or this year. I will be able to judge this when I see my students 10 or 20 years after they have graduated from school.
I will look to see what kind of people they are. Are they involved in their church? Are they involved in their community, giving back to those in need? Is God their first priority? If they are married, are they committed to their spouse and children – loving and caring for them? Do their goals reflect an eternal value? Are their goals ultimately to glorify God?
If the answers to these questions are ‘Yes’ and our school has been part of this result, then I would say we have been successful.
May we all continue to be educated for God’s purposes!
Ian Jarvie is principal at BC Christian Academy in Port Coquitlam.