Each of us has dreams that drive everything that we do. Those dreams change as we have new life experiences and as we learn more. This is part of growing in maturity both naturally and spiritually. There is a progression that believers often go through that begins with wanting to know the Lord and to see others come to know Him as well. Eventually, as we study the scriptures and history, we start to get a vision for what the world would be like if people were to not only believe in Jesus, but to become like Him. That dream became even more consuming as I had children and began to ponder the world we are leaving them as in inheritance. I saw in history how our ancestors in the faith have exerted a gracious influence on the nations. Sure, we can isolate events that show the awful influence of sin, but when we study church history, we see that there has always been a true and false church in the world. The true church has always been a blessing to the nations of the earth. The question that burned in my soul was, how can we have such an influence in our generation? One thing that I noticed is that the times when Christianity has been the greatest blessing in the earth is when it emphasized the education of our children. When I discovered classical Christian education, I found a blueprint for how we can give our children a rich inheritance in education, character and faith.
What makes a classical Christian education so valuable is that it does not just focus on the impartation of knowledge and the development of skills. Those alone are extremely valuable because they give our children ability to be successful in the world. Yet, it is the classical Christian element that focuses that success on a passion to be a blessing to others. A Fortis education challenges our children to join in the great conversation of Western Civilization from a biblical perspective. In doing so, they embark on a journey where the virtues and faith we hold so dear are lived out on the stage of world history. As we wrestle with our biblical worldview, the great books and history, we begin to develop a clear vision of what virtue and character look like so that we can develop it in our lives. One of my greatest joys is to see this play out at Fortis Academy.
As we are quickly approaching the end of another year, I am pondering some of the experiences that touched my heart this year. I have been thinking about one story in particular lately. I will leave names out because I did not ask their permission to tell their story, but we had a student who was experiencing a deep anxiety over giving an oral recitation. It turned out that at assembly that very morning I happened to talk about why we emphasize oral communication at Fortis (I really did not know what was going on with the student when I did). I was faced with the challenge of whether or not to let the student out of the oral recitation because of their anxiety. Instead, we had a chat in my office where I explained the courage it would take to face their fear, and that even if they forgot every word and got a failing grade, they were truly successful because they chose to move their life forward and to break free from insecurity. Needless to say, they not only gave the oral recitation but aced it. Last week I talked about how the principles that make people successful in sports can be integrated right into the systems of education. That story is an example. A teacher is also a coach who intentionally challenges students with increasing difficulty, always cheering them on and convincing them that they are able to do it, and not letting them off the hook easily. In that story, I hope you can see how education and discipleship are intricately wed as we help our children develop into adults. That is the dream that I have for my children, and it is summed up in our commitment to produce college and life ready graduates.