The Aim of Christian Education
“Arrows are not meant for décor; they are meant for battle.”
For many years now I have considered Psalm 127 a guidepost for parenting. This Psalm reads, “Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord keeps watch over the city, the watchmen guard in vain.” As a young mom, this verse spoke to me because I realized very early on that parenting was going to be a lot of work and I did NOT want my labor to be in vain. In later verses, the Psalm reads, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons (and daughters) born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” I have pondered these words for many years and though I am not a bow huntress, I understand enough about this image to recognize that parenting, like archery, requires a great deal of skill and focus. If my children are arrows and I am the warrior, then I recognize that I must not be shooting haphazardly. I need to be aiming at something. Careless parenting, like careless shooting, can be dangerous. Due to that fact, I decided many years ago that the bullseye of my parenting was that I raise Christlike children. Let’s face it, the world into which I am releasing them is going to require some serious character, and my children will need to be wise, reasonable, and kind if they are to find both success and joy. In part, this is why I chose to place them in a Christian school environment from the moment my eldest son entered Pre-K. I wanted their hearts to be surrounded by God’s love, and I wanted their minds to be grounded in God’s truth.
Now that I am working full-time in Christian education, I have been pondering these verses anew, asking myself where a school like Gramercy might fit into this metaphor on parenting. If the bullseye is Christlike sons and daughters, if our children are the arrows, and if parents are the warriors, what is the role of Christian education? How can a school help facilitate the goal of launching wise and influential disciples of Christ into the battleground that is planet earth? In an effort to answer that question, I began researching the art of archery, and much to my surprise, I discovered that in bow hunting there is a little device called a release aid. Interest piqued, I dug a little deeper, and according to bowhuntingmag.com, a release aid is “a device that helps to fire arrows more precisely.” This seemed to answer my question. In fact, if I had to sum up the aim of Christian education and Gramercy Christian School today, I would say that the aim of our school is to help parents release their children more precisely and more prepared into the world. Our aim is to help parents help their children hit the mark that is Christlikeness. In short, Christian education is a release aid.
Now because I am an English major, I can never leave a metaphor alone and so I needed to unpack this one a little more. In fact, I was pleased to discover that according to bowhuntingmag.com, there are five good reasons to use a release aid. Let me share them with you.
1. BEATING TARGET PANIC: As the mother of a Senior in high school, I can relate to this one. I have a really good son, but Christlike character is a really big goal, and there are days I have a little target panic. Knowing that my son is being rooted and grounded in God’s Word not only at home and at church, but also in school, helps me feel a little less anxious about him hitting the mark.
2. EASIER TUNING: Apparently release aids help eliminate the dynamic of an arrow oscillating from side to side too much upon release. In other words, a release aid can help keep an arrow on target even after it has left the archer’s hand. As a parent, I have no doubt that it takes a village to raise a child, and I am thankful that my son, upon release, has 12 years of an education founded on biblical principle to help keep him between the lines.
3. LESS PRACTICE TIME: As a working parent, there are just not enough hours in the day to make sure the kids are healthy, fed, clothed, driven to events, prepared for school, taught, snuggled, and discipled. I need help! My son spends almost eight hours a day in school and it encourages me to know that the same principles I am practicing at home are also being practiced in the classroom.
4. BETTER IN THE COLD: According to bowhuntingmag.com, when conditions change, a release aid can help keep the trigger finger steady. Let’s face it, life is hard. Family dynamics are difficult. Tragedy and nonsense happen. Though we try our best to keep conditions pleasant on the outside, it doesn’t always work. Christian education, and specifically Gramercy Christian School, has been a place of warmth for my children when the world outside was a little too cold and dreary.
5. MORE ACCURATE: A release aid allows for consistency. I did not grow up attending a Christian school and I have spent much of my adult life trying to unlearn some bad habits and false ideas. I am convinced that surrounding our children on all sides with a consistent message and a consistent example is key to making sure they release well.
According to Psalm 127, I am a warrior with arrows in hand, but most days I just feel like a weary mom doing my level best to get through the day. Though no church, no school, no institution can ever guarantee that a child is going to hit the bullseye upon release, I am grateful for the teachers, administrators, coaches, and other parents who have poured into my children’s lives through Christian education. Perhaps like me, you often feel more like a wimp than a warrior. Don’t worry. At the end of the day, it is Christ alone who will cause our arrows to fly straight and true. In the meantime, I am thankful for the release aid that is Christian education.