As the head of Grace, I am often asked by prospective families, members of the Tyler community, or other “school people” throughout the country what makes our school distinct? Every school has its own distinctives, those things that make it unique. What separates us from other very good schools, how are we different?
Easy answers lie in our mission statement, our core values, our philosophy of education, and our statement of faith. While all of those things are important, our core purpose at Grace is this: Grace exists to teach Jesus. As I think about all that this simple statement, rife with meaning, connotes, I realize that teaching Jesus is also the basis of how I parent my children. When I realize that my primary purpose as a parent is to teach Jesus, it touches and concerns everything I do:
Through my life. Jesus encourages us to “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” (Mt. 5:16). Our children are extremely perceptive. They will never accept what we teach as true if they don’t see it modeled in our lives. If I teach my children honesty and integrity with my lips, but fail to keep my word with regard to spending time with them, or run a toll booth or stop sign with them in the car, I make myself out to be a liar and negate the truth I’m trying to teach. Every decision I make, word from my mouth, and action must teach Jesus.
Through my lessons. Just as God’s Word is the foundation of all the subjects we teach at Grace, so it must be in my home. Teaching my children directly from the Bible is crucial, but I have to know God’s Word so well that I can teach Jesus through all of life’s experiences. When my children see news reports and commentary concerning wasteful government spending, I have to know what Romans 13 says about submission to earthly authority, the parable of the talents in Matthew 24, and God’s other teachings on money and authority. I have to teach these things to my children, not just to teach them a quick, proof-texted, answer, but one that really reflects who God is and what He calls us to be. Almost all of life is an opportunity to teach Jesus, but I first have to know Him.
Through my discipline. It’s no secret that our children are sinners saved by the blood of Christ. If I don’t discipline them, God’s Word says I don’t love them. But, do I discipline them in such a manner that reflects the character of Christ, that teaches them Jesus? God teaches and shows us that there are consequences to our sin. Do I attach consequences to my children’s actions, or do I try to help them avoid the pain of such consequences? When I discipline them, do I do so in a way that is unduly harsh or inappropriately soft? Are my disciplinary measures appropriately demonstrating mercy and justice? Do I teach God’s forgiveness and redemption in the face of repentance? Do I discipline them to a standard of do’s and don’ts that teach them to be little legalists, or do I take it back to the nature and character of the perfect, loving God? I don’t know how anyone does all this effectively without constantly seeking wisdom and insight from the Holy Spirit.
Through counseling and coaching. High school is teaching me how to be a coach who teaches Jesus. As I counsel my children through the trials and tribulations that plague the heart of the pre-adolescent or adolescent female of the species (boys, too, I’m sure), I see that these all are opportunities to teach Jesus, to reveal His character and to encourage them to model that character. I get to teach them that suffering is a part of life, and that to suffer well is as much (if not more) an opportunity to glorify God as being humble in victory.
Through our relationships with each other. God is a faithful, persevering God. Paul tells us that, when we were sinners in rebellion against Him, His sworn enemies, He died for us. In our marriages, our relationships with our children, or the relationships between home and school and home and church, there is a tendency to become exasperated and walk away. It’s easy to be in love or in community when things are going well; it’s in the hard times that we have the ability to teach Jesus well. By persevering in those relationships that are central to our lives, especially when it’s hard to do so, we teach and model the love of Jesus: a real, passionate love that is committed, that doggedly pursues and seeks reconciliation.
A final note: Because I’m not Jesus, I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to sin. But, what a great opportunity to reveal God’s love and grace for my messed up, but penitent heart! If my kids see me seeking God’s mercy and their forgiveness, even my failures can be chances to teach Jesus.
For Grace school, teaching Jesus is our greatest act of worship, an act of declaring the worthiness of Christ to be praised and glorified. So it is in our homes. When we constantly ask ourselves, “How do I teach Jesus in this situation?” we fulfill God’s ultimate purpose for our lives as parents and educators.