Recently, I had the privilege of attending a conference at which the keynote speaker was Eric Metaxas. Metaxas is growing in prominence as an astute historian and cultural critic. Some of his most famous works include biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, William Wilberforce, and Martin Luther. During his keynote, he shared an obscure story from the early days of the founding of our country.
The story was about a conversation that took place in 1787 as Benjamin Franklin emerged from the Constitutional Convention on the last day. According to Dr. James McHenry, a young delegate from Maryland who observed the exchange, a woman named “Mrs. Powell” approached him. Mrs. Powell asked Franklin directly, “Well, doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin, always quick with wit, responded: “A republic, madam- if you can keep it.”
Metaxas went on to explain the meaning of this statement, given the historical context in which our Founding Fathers lived. The principles set forth in the US Constitution were truly unprecedented in history at the time: A Nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. A nation not established by a homogenous tribe or ethnic group, or a disparate group of peoples united under a strong leader. Ours is a nation built on an idea, a hope and a promise. An idea that Franklin knew would flourish or fail- depending on the people.
So what does this have to do with our school? I believe a review of our Mission Statement is helpful: “We strive to partner with parents in providing a Christ-centered, classical education utilizing a university model. We seek to inspire our students to love learning, to face life’s challenges with courage and character, and to apply God’s truth in their spheres of influence.”
Like the Founding Fathers of America, when the OG founding Board Members put this together, they knew it was ambitious and risky. Why? First it was- and still is- countercultural. A classical curriculum is often quite rigorous, and calls us back to traditional values and pedagogies which are not always “fun” or “comfortable.” There is a calling to high standards of discipline and respect for authority in terms of class decorum, policies, and procedures. While these used to be the norm, they have now become largely foreign in our society. We ask students to work on penmanship, spelling, analytical grammar, even writing out their assignments on paper! Our students study Latin, Logic, and read classical novels. We ask them to memorize poetry (we used to say, “learn it by heart”).
Secondly, our mission and vision is not only countercultural, but it also requires great sacrifice. Much time and effort is required to take the primary responsibility for discipleship and sharing responsibilities for teaching and instructing your children (when they could be supervised and instructed somewhere else—maybe even for free!). The University Model is not for the faint of heart, and even the most type A, high energy parents struggle with it. Home days can be exhausting, frustrating, and confusing. Sometimes we wonder if we are making progress at all. We are broken and imperfect parents and teachers trying to cultivate wisdom and virtue in our broken and imperfect children. This requires a work of the Holy Spirit.
So here’s the question: Is it worth it? Or should I say: Are they worth it?
Let us not forget the words of Scripture on this. Two passages immediately come to mind:
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Mark 8:36-37)
Is there ever regret for investing wholeheartedly in the formation of our children’s hearts and minds? Is there any higher or more noble calling than this? Our founding members didn’t think so, our staff doesn’t think so, and I am sure you don’t either.
Like the American ideal of government, the calling of a Christian classical education, utilizing a university model, is a great one- “If we can keep it.” With all of the obstacles I have mentioned, the odds are stacked against us from a worldly perspective. Fortunately, we are not alone in this calling. The Lord always equips for what He calls. I will conclude with two more passages from Scripture:
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:28-29)
“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
It is a privilege to strive with you in this partnership of our mission and vision- for it is truly a noble one. Through hard work, devotion- all by God’s empowering grace, we can keep it. Not only for our children, but for those who will come after them as well!