“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

Our school theme for 2020/21 is “Nerve to Serve.” In 1 Peter 4:10, we read: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

Why would a Christian school have ‘Service’ as part of its DNA? Why such a focus on something that brings reward to others and supposedly not to us? Well, it is pretty obvious when we know that our Saviour ‘came to serve and not be served’ (Matt 20:28). The Creator and Sustainer of this world could have demanded the opposite, but he did not, instead, he gave of himself to others.

Many of us have attended the funeral of a friend, family member or colleague and been hugely touched by the eulogy given about the person, about the type of person they were. If you are like me, I immediately think that I should make changes in my life to be a ‘nicer, more caring’ person. As we listen to the eulogy, we don’t want to emulate their jobs, just their character and personal qualities.

Herein lies the difference between ‘eulogy virtues’ and ‘resume virtues.’ Resume virtues are those skills or qualities people have to do their job well, such as being punctual, hardworking, precise. Eulogy virtues, on the other hand, are those qualities that people say about you at your funeral, such as you were kind, forgiving, compassionate, bold, faithful, loving, and you cared about others.

We all know the virtues or qualities we want people to say about us, it is those ‘eulogy virtues. That begs the question, does our educational system promote eulogy virtues or rather resume virtues? In our culture and the educational scene today, it is generally the resume virtues that are promoted. Schools are judged on how ‘successful’ they are in developing students ready for the workforce, to be ‘productive members of society’. The productiveness is an economic productiveness. The evidence for this is to consider how schools are ranked and evaluated for their effectiveness by the government, public and media. They are measured by their academic results.

Do not get me wrong, I prize academic excellence and students faithfully using their God-given talents in academic studies, that is a way of honouring God. I certainly have high expectations on students, but we sell our young people short when we imply that academics maketh the man.

I believe our educational system is weighted more towards teaching the skills and knowledge that a student ‘needs’ for a successful career, rather than towards a godly character that blesses others. I believe society has lost the foundational basis, the Word of God, by which to call people to godliness, and which leads to eulogy virtues. When we take God’s Word out of our life or education system, we lose sight of what the purpose of our life is. That is why for a secular education system, the focus is on teaching facts and skills (head knowledge) rather than ‘matters of the heart!’ The truth, however, is that the heart will be shaped by what is taught.

In a Christian school, we must attend to both the head and the heart.

If we do well there, then the hands will follow. A Christian school must not neglect to train its students in moral and spiritual domains. The best that we can give to society after 13 years of Christian education are students who are able to critique and engage in society, using their gifts and abilities to serve God and others, and who are ‘measured’ not by economic output but by the contribution they make to growing God’s kingdom here on earth.

Again, to be clear, I am not advocating that all our students become overseas missionaries! I am talking about every student having a heart disposition that leans towards serving others, considering the needs of society, family, and friends, and growing in love for God in wherever God has placed them.

This is why service is such an important part of our DNA. It is evidence of a heart that loves others and finds its true fulfilment when this is done for the glory of God.

Richard Vanderpyl
Head of School