Mr. Streelman Discusses “Christian Perspective”

Hello Parents,

It’s been another great week on campus. I love this part of the school year. There is so
much energy. Everything is new. Everything is exciting. I hope that you feel it too. I
hope your sons and daughters are energized and excited about their classes, their
teachers, and their friends.

Today, we are going to continue looking at the theme that we have been exploring the
last couple of weeks – Why do we do this? Why do we invest in Christian
education? And, in doing so, I thought we would take a few minutes to break down one
of the most overused and least understood buzzwords in the education sector –
Christian perspective. (There are actually a couple of words and phrases that are
interchangeable here … Biblical worldview, Christ-centered, Christian worldview, Biblical
perspective … they all basically mean the same thing and they are thrown around all the
time.)

You would be hard-pressed to find a Christian school that does not tout its Christian
perspective or Biblical worldview in its mission statement or expected graduation
outcomes, not to mention on its Facebook page and in its marketing materials. The
reason for this is obvious. A Christian perspective differentiates us. It makes us
different than the public school down the street. It is the perceived desire of parents
and stakeholders. And, most importantly, we believe that a Christian worldview will
actually make a difference in the lives of our students and in our world.

But a buzzword is a buzzword for a reason. We use it. We repeat it. We think we
know what it means. And if we don’t really know what it means, we act like we know
what it means because it’s a buzzword. It’s an easy description. It’s a quick
reference. It’s concise and simple. But, because the word is thrown around with such
familiarity without definition, explanation, or understanding, the word can become
meaningless.

I found this awesome website called The Global Language Monitor, which actually
calculates the use of certain terms and phrases across the web and classifies a certain
number as buzzwords. It’s actually really funny because I catch myself using way too
many of them. Here are a few examples: paradigm shift, outside the box, gamechanger,
at the end of the day, literally. You get the idea. These are words that have
been used and overused so much that they have lost the intent of their original
meaning. “Literally” literally doesn’t even mean literally anymore.

So, that is the point of today’s discussion. I want to redefine the buzzword, to make
sure that we actually know what we are talking about when we claim to teach from a
Christian perspective. Let’s start with a corporate analogy.

When I was in business school, I had to take a class called Mission, Vision, and the
Organization. The point of the class was to look at all types of organizations and assess
whether or not the actions of the CEO and the board actually reflected the values
professed in the company’s mission statement. In other words, do companies actually
walk the walk?

The common theme across the business world is that successful organizations start
with mission. Everything flows from mission. Decisions are made in light of
mission. For example, the mission statement of Apple is, “Apple designs Macs, the best
personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional
software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store.
Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and
is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

That’s a pretty specific mission. And, even in an organization as complex as Apple, it is
relatively simple to weigh a decision against this mission. Let’s say some division of
Apple needs new capital to invest in a new project. All management has to do is to run
the decision through the matrix created by the mission statement. Will this help us
make the best computers in the world? Will this be a world-leading way to produce
and/or sell digital music? Does this put us on the cutting edge of mobile technology? If
the answer to any of these is “yes,” then management moves forward. If this project
does not fit within the mission, the program is eliminated. That is the way good
businesses run – proactive and always in pursuit of projects that are true to the mission
of the organization.

Ok, so how in the world does that relate to Biblical worldview or Christian
perspective? Let’s go to the text:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

I believe that we, as Christians, have been given a mission statement. We have been
provided with a vision of what we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to
live. There are several other places we could look to find this mission statement … the
Sermon on the Mount, Peter’s sermon on Pentecost Sunday, the book of James, etc.
But I think Paul sums it up perfectly in this one short passage. If I had to write a mission
statement for what it means to be a Christian, I would pick this passage. It is the perfect
description of Christ’s character and should, therefore, be the vision that we have for
ourselves.

Even though I have only been here for a month, I can say, without question, that our
teachers think in these terms. They try to live out the charge in Galatians 5:22-
23. They believe that their actions should flow from this mission. This is how we are
charged to think as Christian educators. Does my interaction with these students
embody patience? Does my math instruction impart kindness? Do my discussion
methods display self-control? Do I have a gentle discipline policy? Do I look like
Christ?

That is what it means to teach from a Christ-centered perspective. Teaching from a
Christian perspective is not about having the “correct” stance on evolution or being on
the “right” side of the LGBTQ debate. It’s not about imparting a certain doctrinal stance
or a set of dogmatic rules and regulations. It’s not even about painting Bible verses on
the wall in the hallways of the Elementary school (which I love, by the way). When we
say that our teachers teach from a Christ-centered perspective, we mean that they try to
model Christ every single day. They try to embody the fruit of the Spirit. They try to
display love and joy and peace and patience. They try to be examples of goodness and
faithfulness and gentleness and self-control. Do we mess up? Sure … every single
day. But the hope is that, as we try to embody Christ, we would impart a worldview, a
perspective, and a way of being that is transformational in the lives of these
students. Our prayer is that our students are bombarded with Christlikeness from all
angles every single day, and that this example would sink in. Our prayer is that our
students would look like Mr. Green, because Mr. Green looks like Christ. Our prayer is
that students would look like Mrs. Newton and Mrs. Carmichael and Mr. Smith, because
they look like Christ. Our prayer is that students would look like Coach Chambers,
because Coach Chambers looks like Christ.

I went to a Christian school for 13 years. When I graduated, I could recite the books of
the Bible, I knew Old Testament history, and I could offer a three-pronged argument in
defense of my faith. I had memorized hundreds of Bible verses and sung a million
worship songs. And, while I am so thankful for that foundation, I realize that all of it
would have been empty and meaningless were it not for the teachers, coaches, and
staff who were Christ to me. They were an embodiment of the fruit of the Spirit. Their
lives were a derivation of their collective mission to impart a Christian perspective and a
Biblical worldview. It was so much more than a buzzword.

Blessings,
Erick Streelman
Head of School

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