Senior Mission Trip to Korea

Forty-three seniors plus chaperones recently returned from an incredible nine days traveling to and ministering in Korea.  Our senior students were the primary teachers in four different churches in Suncheon, South Korea.  The ministry was teaching conversational English through a Biblical approach to children in a program sponsored by Awana Korea.

Our group was split into 4 teams of 10 or 11 students each, plus two chaperones and worked with a translator, the Awana volunteers and local church volunteers in making our mission successful and rewarding.

The hunger for the preached Word of God was evident almost immediately in that each of the four churches had a passion for Christ and vibrant Worship services.  Also, their desire to have their children memorize Scripture was convicting and was likely a picture of what the American Church was like 100 years ago.  We were blown away by their passion for the Lord.

Our lives were touched and our hearts encouraged by the grace, kindness and hospitality of the Korean adults and the love and joy of their children.

I am proud of our senior class for their work to prepare for the trip and for its execution.  Thanks to PCS parent Kevin Belden who was the trip leader as he did a wonderful job.

We were all greatly blessed!


Shadow Missions

Church history is filled with stories of great men of God who have seen personal collapse, of churches that have dissipated into impotence and even abandonment. Harvard and Princeton began as Christian colleges but have now transformed themselves into secular universities which, other than having centuries-old inscriptions on the original buildings and monuments, show no visible sign of any Biblical influence. Even when a mission is clear and everyone on the front end of a business, school, or a church is ‘on-board’ with the original goals of the mission and how to attain them, it can lose its way.

Recently, I came across a concept of this ‘mission-distractedness’ that I found intriguing. It is applicable to us as we try to hold true to the course set before us as a school which has, at its root, a desire to help our families help their children to become all that God calls them to be.

In his book, Overcoming Your Shadow Mission, John Ortberg asserts the following:

"Then one speaker said something that stuck with me. He said that if we don’t embrace our true mission, we will by default pursue what he called ‘shadow missions’- patterns of thought and action based on temptations and our own selfishness that lead us to betray our deepest values. The result: regret and guilt.

You and I were created to have a mission in life. We were made to make a difference. But if we do not pursue the mission for which God designed and gifted us, we will find a substitute."

Ortberg asserts that there can be issues on several levels that lead to an organization’s eventual demise as a result of shadow missions. On the personal level we each have spiritual shadow missions. Scripture is filled with examples: Solomon’s wealth, Job’s listening to his ‘friends’, Saul’s power and control of the kingdom, Peter’s personal safety in the face of Jesus’ danger.

Then, there are larger, ‘organizational’ shadow missions. In a church or a Christian school this can be caused by worshiping created things and not the creator. It can happen in taking the path of least resistance and not standing up for what is right or against someone or something that has power or influence.

At PCS it will likely come from things that are ‘good’ things but become areas of worship: enrollment numbers, keeping parents (or the board, or the faculty) happy, allowing co-curricular programs to influence teacher hiring decisions, the admissions process, or having aspects of those programs dominate our time, effort, enthusiasm, and our asset base.

As a parent, a shadow mission might be the achievement of a scholarship for their child, better school facilities, a certain grade achievement by their student, a certain college entrance exam score, or whether or not their child is simply ‘happy’.

As a school we have a clear mission statement. We are not the 7-Eleven, nor hopefully, like the chicken restaurant that is now out of business. Although we like for everyone to enjoy each day, we don’t, nor should we, cater to make the ‘customer’ happy, as a primary goal. Our ‘business’ is about stretching ourselves, our families, and our students to help them to “become all that God calls them to be.”

Sometimes it is fun – a ‘7-Eleven’ coffee experience. Sometimes it is a grind and involves uncomfortable meetings and possible confrontation. It is based on relationships, both with the student and with the parent. And, it is likely that the ability to overcome difficulty will be directly proportional to the spiritual maturity of both parties involved, as well as the depth of their personal relationship.


Game Changers

Game Changers

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.  With our help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.”  Psalm 18: 28 & 29

Just about every competitive football game I have ever watched, coached or played in has a certain point in the game, unpredictable beforehand, that proves out to be the ‘game-changer’.  Game changers are that moment when what seemed to be sure loss (or victory) inexplicably and suddenly sways the other direction and potentially changes the outcome of the game.  God uses game changers in our lives too.

Reading the book, Recovering the Lost Tools was certainly a game changer for me. I really haven’t been the same since I read it that first time. 

The latest game changers for me are:

-the realization that sin doesn’t go away because we are a Christian school; it is here every day and some of it gets in a red jeep and drives out of the driveway each afternoon.  As Steve Brown says: “the difference for Christ-followers ought to be that we are sick, need His help, we know it and admit it.”

-All of everything in creation belongs to and is subject to Him; there is no such thing as “Christian” and “Secular”; those are religious and man-made distinctions.  That being said, then, every subject, every event, every program is a “Christian” program if we are indeed a Christian school that knows we are ‘sick’ and needy. Christian ‘integration’ is simply breathing in the redemption of Jesus and exhaling grace on those around us. (Can you imagine the impact if we hosted a ballgame at PCS and actually did that?)

-Classical education is not new; the Logos model of Classical Christian education as a distinction might be new, but it is in reality the method of teaching that was taught by Christ-followers to their children for over one thousand years. The Enlightenment Period and the dawn of the Great Awakening in America were products of hundreds of years of classical educational instruction many of whom were the American settlers, some of whom came to be known as the Puritans. 

Although many homeschool families have sought alternatives to progressive education and the Common Core movement by teaching classically, classical pedagogy is NOT a newfangled outgrowth of a homeschool movement.

-The theory of how children “learn” is one that creates the most interesting difference in the approaches. As educators we all know there are different levels of understanding that a student can possess.  “Knowing the material” does not imply understanding; and understanding certainly does not suggest fluency or a desire to investigate and research deeper on one’s own.

How we define ‘learning’ and then how we measure it determine the amplitude to which we assess understanding

To understand the affection the Progressives have toward their educational approach, observe how the mass production and the invention of the assembly line of the late 19th century influenced the education culture of their day.  The technology of the assembly line was as instrumental in influencing educational culture of 1800’s America as digital technology is to our current educational culture.


Be a coach

Long ago I began to appreciate being called ‘coach’ even when it is perhaps outside of the context of most of what my job entails officially.

There are many aspects of coaching that apply to all areas of life, but none more substantial than the realization that in raising children, we are all ‘coaches’.  In fact, if as parents we were to see ourselves a bit more as the head coach of our children, we might find we would be more efficient at the task in raising them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, which is a really awesome Biblical term for respect, appreciation and submission.  This doesn’t happen by preventing them from encountering failure or disappointment, however.

In fact, just like a good coach sets up his practices and drills to create game-situations knowing that there will be failure and mistakes within them, parenting requires preparing them (and ourselves) for mistakes and heartache that the children incur and helping them overcome them. 

The key is helping them through the consequences, not eliminating them from the pain or heartache of their existence.  Coaching isn’t about the avoidance or denial of losses, but in application of the correct emotional, physical and spiritual response to overcome them.  How to pray through a situation, and how to submit to God’s sovereign hand as we deal with our life-losses are just as important a part of the game-plan for life as they are for the next sport opponent.

In athletics, a great practice is where the drill is competitive and success is only possible through ‘game speed’ participation and simulation. A coach has created a good drill session when it is difficult and requires not only great effort but also the intangible trait best described as ‘grit’ to get through the toughest portion of the event successfully.

A parents, we are just like coaches whose primary job is to teach our children that there will always be opposition, but that we are not alone in the struggle against it.  Great victories only come in the face of substantial opposition and when great effort, focus and energy are required to achieve success.

And to overcome the obstacle, they must PRACTICE.  That’s right, just plain old hard-working practice.  The great coaches are those can motivate, reward and encourage practice participation that carries over into the game.  Great parenting is like that too.


When Preventing Prevents Preparing Part II

When Preventing Hinders Preparing Part II

The following is the continuation of a blog post from Tim Elmore:

When adults, however, allow children to gradually become exposed to more dangers on a playground, kids use the same habituation techniques developed by therapists to help adults conquer phobias, according to Dr. Sandseter and fellow psychologist Leif Kennair. “Our fear of children being harmed by mostly harmless injuries may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology.”

Schools have been guilty of preventing bad things too. In a recent Undergraduate Survey, Dr. Art Levine reports that grade inflation has skyrocketed. In 1969, only 7% of students had a grade point average that was an A- or higher. In 2009, it was 41%. In that same time period, students having a C average dropped from 25% to 5%. One has to wonder—are kids that much smarter than forty years ago, or do we just give them higher grades to keep customers happy? Sadly, it appears this may hinder their readiness to enter the real world. In 2012, 80 percent of students said they planned on moving back home after college. They don’t feel prepared.

Money is part of the problem. All of us would agree that poverty makes it hard to raise good kids. Parents slip into survival mode and are thinking more about getting through the week than preparing kids for adulthood. However, we’d also agree that wealth makes it hard too. Millionaires often comment that the work ethic they developed to earn their riches is rarely passed on to their children. Malcolm Gladwell says that studies show an income of about $70,000 is the median amount that enables parents to both avoid spoiling their kids and provide for their needs. Kids need the basics, but they also need to learn to wait, to listen, to struggle, to save, to serve, to fall, and to fail in order to be ready for life. Preventing these things is a disservice to our children.

Dr. Michael Unger, a child therapist, writes: “We seem these days to have a magical notion that children can learn commonsense by just watching and listening to others talk about it. That just isn’t the way our brains develop. We are experiential beings. Lev Vygotsky, a famous child psychologist from Russia, demonstrated very well what he calls ‘zones of proximal development.’ We need to be pushed, not too far, but just enough to learn something new. Good development occurs when we are invited to accept challenges that are just big enough to demand we work at solving them, but that they don’t completely defeat us.”

Our kids need:

  • Experiences not just explanations.
  • Nature not just nurture to mature them.
  • Problems not just praise to develop them.
  • Adults who preview obstacles with them, not prevent them.It’s time our leadership catches up with their needs.
  • - See more at: http://growingleaders.com/blog/preventing-hinders-preparing/#disqus_thread
  • All parents must remember this critical point. If we don’t spend time preparing, we will most assuredly spend time repairing. We will be forced to engage in fixing the problem we created when our kids become unready adults.

When Preventing Hinders Preparing

The article below communicates a viewpoint of a trend in the perspective of parenting that is interesting, and frankly one that we are seeing more and more at PCS.  It is further evidence of the truth of the wisdom of the quote:  “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.” By Tim Elmore from Growing Leaders blog:

Have you evaluated your parenting skills lately?  I believe our report card has changed during our lifetime. While we pride ourselves in giving our children more advantages than ever before, the numbers tell us it may not be helping.

What’s happened to us?

Let’s take a walk down memory lane. A century ago, parenting looked different. On average, families were much larger, so parents had less time to spend on each child. They were unable to prevent many natural difficulties and accidents. Kids learned from experience. Parents weren’t consumed with their child becoming self-actualized—they wanted to raise good citizens who fit into their community.

Today, parents have fewer children, and much more time and attention is spent on them. We’re able to protect and prevent most accidents and failures. We put helmets and safety pads on them, assuming that preventing hurt or difficulty is the sign of a good parent. Our goal is to produce a self-actualized individual, who can get the most out of life. Our nurturing tendencies often eliminate hard experiences.

We want to give our kids a decided advantage—an edge on their peers—since ours are so special. While I agree with the sentiments of self-esteem, safety, applauding participation and head-starts, I believe we’ve given them a false sense of reality. It sets them up for a painful wake-up call, as they grow older. Social scientists agree that our emphasis on “winning” has produced highly confident kids. Sadly, they also agree that this ill-prepares them for the world that awaits them. Research shows that safety and self -esteem are not something we can “give” to our kids. They are something kids must learn—through challenging experiences. Preventing all things bad may actually hinder preparing them for the world that awaits them.

Let me illustrate. Over the last two decades, playground equipment has been removed from public parks across the country and around the world. We worried about children falling down and getting hurt, so we demanded the monkey bars or jungle gyms be taken down. This makes sense if all that matters is today. Sadly, we’ve begun to see the unintended by-product of this safety measure. Researchers now question the value of safety-first playgrounds. New York Times reporter John Tierny writes, “Even if children do suffer fewer physical injuries—and the evidence for that is debatable—critics say these playgrounds may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone.”  

Next time part II of this article

For more go to Tim Elmore’s blog

http://growingleaders.com/blog


The Daily Duty of Discipline

There are many ways that self-discipline is learned and delivered.  Hopefully, it comes early in life with the lessons, instructions, and guidance of parents and others that are given the privilege and responsibility for guidance and direction over a child.  As a school we are engaged in partnering with parents in this important process of the development of self-discipline.

Sometimes lessons are learned the hard way when poor choices are made and sinful hearts lead a child to have to suffer the lesson of consequences.  A financial advisor friend of mine counsels his clients with the concept of viewing recovery from their poor financial decisions and/or bad habits as ‘tuition’ paid in order to learn a life-lesson that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Consequences serve as ‘teachers’ and can change future decision-making.

Discipline, teaching, and correction are on-going, never-ending truths that can be simple, yet profound.  The key is consistent, unemotional and grace-infused guidance and direction.

An example of that were the “coaching cues” given to one of our 1st grade classes from their teacher recently. Their patient and gifted teacher was offering instructions from the door frame of the boys’ bathroom. With quite firm candor and with specific detail, her expectations of their visit were clear when she told them: “Flush, tuck, wash, and zip”. 

Because of our sin-nature, knowing what one should do is not always a deterrent from wayward choices. Therefore, failure to follow guidelines that are given often result in consequences that are applied. 

There is a balance between allowing circumstances to teach their sermon versus removing the student from the full brunt of the consequences of their actions.  Forgiveness is personal and is required of us as Christians-it is a given.  But forgiveness has little to do with the application of consequences or punishment toward the misdeeds of someone over whom you are given authority or responsibility. 

Consequences serve to protect the group and the integrity and respect of the organization by those not involved in the sinful action and often are a critical step for the protection of the good and morale of group, as well as the respect that is maintained for person that is given the responsibility and authority.


Prepare the Child for the Path

As parents, and as a school that has committed itself to helping parents with the education of their children, the key question we must ask ourselves is: “what are the goals of my dealing with this child?”

If it is that they be happy, then the behavior that I will project will be to produce, usually as quickly as possible, a decision or an action that makes that child contented. Often, when this is the primary goal, it comes at the cost of a loss of respect for the decision-maker and a sense of entitlement in the child that stunts emotional maturity as well as their development of a servant’s heart.

But, if my goal is that they develop and mature into a young person with the self-discipline and character traits of a godly young man or young woman, then the perspective is changed and I no longer am going to feel obligated to make sure that this child is happy.   Each of us, if given the choice, would like to see everyone contented.  But this is not reality.  In fact, the opportunity to learn to deal with disappointment and setback in an appropriate manner is a parental privilege and responsibility that is vital to the development of a spiritually and emotionally mature adult.

When our children face setback, disappointment, heartache and perhaps even not getting what they want immediately, it creates an opportunity for adult counsel and encouragement in how to deal appropriately with negative circumstances. It also is a wonderful opportunity to lead them to the only source of strength that is eternal and just. These ‘teachable moments’ are precious and we should be focused on taking advantage of them when they present themselves. The ‘cost’ of this counsel is our time, patience and for a while that child not ‘liking you’.  But the long-term payoff is priceless.

For years we have repeated the phrase that I believe succinctly describes our mission both as parents and a Christian school: “our job is to prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.”


You Can't Educate the Head Without Dealing With the Heart

“You can’t educate the head without dealing with the heart.” Paul David Tripp

Behaviorism teaches cost-rate-analysis rather than heart change.  Inducing a child to perform a specific behavior or task with the promise of some reward makes us part of the problem.  And generally when the reward is withdrawn or its stimulus simply wanes, the positive behavior dissipates. True change only comes from heart change.  And outside of the Holy Spirit, we are all powerless to produce heart change in a student or a child.

This is why it is possible that a child can seem so compliant and obedient for years, yet when circumstances change or the reward system no longer sustains their attitude we see a side of them and their behavior that is repulsive.

  Sometimes we don’t realize the depth of a situation until it is far beyond the scope of what can be recovered quickly.  So often I hear parents say: “He doesn’t listen to me anymore” or “I can’t do anything with her.”

Grace is required in order to make lasting change in a student’s heart.  Grace defined is unmerited favor at another’s expense.  It costs you (time, emotion, patience) and gives them what they don’t deserve (your time, your calm and measured responses, your patience).  It is taking the time and providing the patience to work through the heart issue with a student’s behavior following the Biblical pathway to truth and repentance.  Without following this process, Paul David Tripp says 4 things will happen:

1-You will turn God-given moments of ministry into moments of frustration and anger.

2-You will personalize things that are not personal.

3-You are adversarial in response: you against your student instead of you FOR your student.

4-You will settle for situational solutions that do not deal with the heart of the matter (i.e. you bark a consequence, and walk away- no one has changed.)


Discipline Isn't a Category

Tim Elmore recently wrote on his blogsite: “You can’t have it both ways: discipline can’t be a “category.” People can’t live two lives and expect to be trusted. Trust evaporates when coaches see discipline in one area, but a total lack of discipline in others. Johnny Manziel says he wants to quarterback the Browns, but his life doesn’t show it. Leadership always begins with self-leadership. Dr. Aaron Stern writes, “To attain emotional maturity, one must be able to delay gratification in favor of long-range goals. His progress on the field was eclipsed by his lack of discipline off the field.”

NFL Quarterbacks can't lose the trust of team management and the respect of teammates and have their teams play at a high level- at least not for very long. Leaders can’t lead of they don’t have trust and respect. If there is anything that we could learn in the current culture we live in, it is in the area of waiting for the good to come later.  

We see it all around us especially in this age of instant gratification: Wireless access, fast food, ‘instant credit’, express checkout, etc. I love Christmas “shopping” on the internet! But raising children to a level of God-honoring self-discipline and respect can’t be ordered on Amazon.

Good parents are nurturers and trainers. The secret is that there is no secret when it comes to instilling self-discipline in children. Convenience and speed are the axioms of our current culture as it relates to most everything we do; but not applicable in raising and teaching children successfully. There is no short-cut. The work is hard, long, difficult and many times frustrating.

But it can be so rewarding! Biblical application to 'training up a child in the way he should go' is essential to the development of self-discipline, self-control and a God-honoring lifestyle.

Over the course of the next several posts I plan to share some of the axioms that have been shared with me regarding keys to healthy Christian parenting (and schooling!).