How You Are Shining Stars (But Be Aware of Black Holes)
i’ve watched with joy How God’s covenant people have kept their commitment to Him.
By Bobby Scott, Headmaster
I selected Philippians 2 this year for our school focus because of my simple love for how Paul’s words address relationships. As the year has progressed, Paul’s message has become my swan song for you, my dear covenant friends.
Scholars say there are three issues that the Philippians were facing:
A growing conflict between their values and those of their culture.
An increase in distortion of truth, with challenging ideas creeping into the churches.
Issues in their covenant family - quarrels, disputes, and lack of real community.
Paul admonished his people with these words:
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”
I am certainly not trying to draw a direct parallel of the church at Philippi and the school at Perimeter, nor do I have Paul’s boldness to ever ask others to imitate me. But it is uncanny how things don’t change much.
Admiration and Admonishment
Yet, it is not the challenges I want to address. It is you, the covenant body, I want to admire and admonish.
Unlike any other church, Paul calls the people at Philippi his “dear friends.” I imagine that since Paul did not spend all his life in one city or at one church, he was a bit like me in having dear friendships that sadly, in most cases, move on. For example, in my 33 years as head of the school, I have had 33 men serve as head of the School Ministry Team. They have walked closely, prayed faithfully, and spoken wisdom to me, seeing my worst days and weakest attempts at leadership. I am deeply grateful for all and consider them “dear friends” even though typically, when their kids graduate, they move on.
Likewise, there are so many teachers and staff. Because many of my decisions affect their lives, they have been wonderfully faithful, extremely patient, or at least quietly tolerant of me. Overall, the love of Jesus through these warriors for the minds and souls of children has sustained me.
I am sure the church at Philippi had its critics, and likewise the school at Perimeter has as well. Some criticisms were probably similar: poor judgment of the leadership, undue attention given to the less mature members, not enough accountability of those who ignore the covenant, inconsideration of less resourced families, 80% of the volunteer work done by 20% of the people, kids given too much grace or too little, teaching not challenging or too challenging, and a lot of talk about reaching the hearts of kids but too little effort.
These are what I call the “black holes” of the school. Such complaints will never totally disappear, no matter who leads the school. They have the potential to do what black holes do - suck away the joy and quench the spirit of the covenant body.
I used to try desperately and fix them all, with no success and much anxiety.
These black holes are real concerns and often need to be addressed, but there is a difference in how we of the covenant should handle these issues. Rather than grumble and complain, we all own them. We address heart issues by looking at our own heart. We see a school problem as our problem, even if all we can or should do is pray.
We see “those kids” as our kids. We see “that teacher” as our teacher. And as you have for 33 years, you see me as a leader being simply a broken person called to a challenging job, often showing me grace, love, and encouragement.
It is these things and many more that make you, our covenant families, “shining stars" in a crooked generation. I admonish you to maintain your luster by:
Staying faithful to your covenant duties. Don’t let the black holes of busyness or apathy ruin the beauty of our school.
Owning your own brokenness so that grace, love, and compassion can continue to flow freely to your family and each other.
Holding to your home’s foundation of biblical truth, while opening your doors and excursions to embrace people who are not like you. Christianity itself is diverse and delightful.
Expecting more out of prayer and less out of your ability to control and mold your children. Even the most extraordinary parenting cannot secure a child’s heart.
To all of you that I know well, and all that I wish I knew better, I am forever humbled to have been able to lead and love your most precious gift from God… your wondrous children.