“Be Careful How You Build”
An Introduction to the Theme for OGCA 2020-21
Jonathan Winn, Headmaster
August 20, 2020
When was the last time you built something? What was it you built? For many of us, this past spring and summer provided more opportunities than ever for home renovations and projects- and this may have included building, or rebuilding, something. Maybe it was a new partition in a room, a garden or landscape feature, a doll house, or if you’re me, some new shelves in your garage.
Have you ever considered that all of us are builders-that we are always building something, whether we realize it or not? Carpenters, craftsmen, and woodworkers aside, there are other building projects than those which are physical and tactile. For example, the family is the first and prominent place in which trust, faith, hope and love are built. Along with the home, the school becomes a place for the building of ideas, knowledge, skills, and most importantly, virtue.
This brings me to my question for us all: What are we building right now? What are we building in ourselves? What are we building in our homes? In our children?
To help think on this further, I propose a review of several components, or phases, in any building project that is done well. For the sake of brevity and depth of thinking, let’s look at one at a time. Here’s the first and critical starting point: vision.
Every successful building endeavor first requires a clear vision of what is to be built. This vision may be derived from a tangible model or template to imitate (like my garage shelves), or something more deep and profound, perhaps from our imagination. Whatever the case, the more significant your building project, the more important it becomes that your vision is grounded in truth, not opinions. For example, imagine with me what would happen if civil engineers were to construct bridges based on popular opinions or feelings, rather than solid mathematical algorithms and laws of physics?
More seriously, consider the building, or “development” (a helpful synonym in this case) of a person, starting with a child. Do you have a clear vision of what that person should look like? If you do, is your vision based on the opinions of others, the values of contemporary society, the feelings of the moment…or on unchanging, rock solid truth?
Now, where do we go to find reliable, immovable truth? The only eternal truth that is unchanging is God’s Word, revealed to us in the Bible, as it is based on the unchanging nature of God Himself. (If you as a reader are skeptical or curious about this claim, I would gladly refer you to this website for a helpful starting point.) We are often reminded in Scripture of the firmness and immutability of God and His Word. For example, in Psalm 119:89: “Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Also, we can see Jesus directly affirming the truth of God’s Word as He prays to God the Father: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth,” (John 17:17).
In considering a vision for our children in education, philosopher Desiderius Erasmus once said, “Moral education is impossible apart from the habitual vision of greatness” (emphasis added).
The “habitual vision of greatness” captures well what classical education has always sought as the goal- for the teacher to embody and for the students to ponder, in all learning and instruction, the seeking of that which is ultimately True, Good, and Beautiful. Classical educators also call this the pursuit of the “Ideal Type,” partially and imperfectly seen in the characters in history and classical literature, and now clearly and fully revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ. In his letter to the church in Colosse, the Apostle Paul writes, “And he [Jesus] is before all things, and in him all things hold together… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…” (Colossians 1:17, 19).
In conclusion, let us ponder: What are we building, right now? What is our vision for our lives and how is that manifest to our children? What is our vision for our family and children, and where does it come from? Is our vision grounded in ultimate truth?
The vision for our children, and truly our entire community here at Oak Grove Classical Academy is this: “Learn for Life, Live for Christ.” It is a vision which our founders before and staff today have contemplated deeply as grounded in the principles of God’s eternal Word. Over the next several periodicals we will dive more deeply into this vision as we consider this profound building project that is before us.