When our girls were younger and we were invited to another family’s house for dinner, Megan and I made it a point not to give them the “be on your best behavior” talk before getting out of the minivan. The reason? We didn’t want to suggest that there should be a difference between how they acted with us and how they acted when they were with others.
Last week, I shared this story with our secondary students while telling them about our upcoming Association of Classical and Christian Schools accreditation visit this Wednesday and Thursday. To be sure, I said, the visit is an important one, as our next 5-year accreditation is on the line. But (as I also said), I wasn’t asking the students to “be on their best behavior” or pretend to be something they – we – aren’t, because who they – we – are will be enough.
It will be enough because of what God has done and is doing in our midst as a community. As Headmaster, I’m aware of plenty of faults and flaws (including our/my own) at Petra, not to mention a variety of broken hearts and hard situations (many of them having little to do with the school) within our little community. As a school with 211 students from 140 families, it can sometimes seem that we have more issues than National Geographic, which isn’t true (National Geographic has been around for a long time), but the challenges weigh heavily nonetheless.
That’s when I find myself most grateful for the first phrase of our mission statement (“Recognizing our need for God’s grace…”), as well as the fact that an increasing number in our community are choosing to embrace and function by our relational covenant (“believe the best in one another, stand shoulder to shoulder, talk to and not about one another”). It’s never easy to admit falling short, but it’s easier to talk about when it’s for the purpose of improving.
The Scriptures remind us that God blesses such attempts: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16) Perhaps like you, I’m grateful for this promise of progress.
As I’ve said plenty of times before, we’re not a perfect school, but we are a progressing one that seeks and acts to improve and get better. I believe this week’s upcoming accreditation visit will prove this out, and I’m glad for the committee to get to know us (warts and all), so they might see God’s grace at work in the midst of our great need for it.
I’m also glad for the chance to learn from other headmasters carrying on good classical Christian education work around the country (after all, there aren’t a lot of ACCS schools here in Montana). I trust parents will take the initiative to greet our guests on Wednesday and Thursday, rolling out the Montana welcome wagon and letting them know we’re glad they’re here.
Thanks for being at Petra, and thanks for including and enabling our family to be so as well. I’m grateful to lead our imperfect but improving school and look forward to what we all will learn from this week.