It’s not been that long since the 44th President of the United States stepped down to make way for the incoming president. We watched it intently from here in Australia, the other side of the world.
Very early on, we noticed that people started speculating about how history would remember Barack Obama. Many believed it would be for the exemplary way in which he conducted himself. Eight years, and not a single personal scandal to tarnish the high office to which he was elected! Political beliefs aside, it’s fair to say that this is rare for public figures in modern society. His high standards of personal behaviour were evident in the way he talked about his wife and daughters, conducted himself in public, and engaged with the media.
During the presidential race, however, both sides of politics downplayed questionable behaviour exhibited by respective candidates. They tried to convince voters that personal conduct doesn’t matter.
In the real world, we know this to be true: people judge the way we do things.
Does the way we conduct ourselves reflect the spirit of the Christian gospel?
Behaviour has always been important to Adventist schools. Micah 6:8 captures our overarching vision: “He has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
As Christian schools with an Adventist special character, we interrogate our values and culture by asking questions like these:
- How do we bring honour to God with our words and actions?
- How can we support and encourage one another, respecting each other’s differences?
- How can we enjoy our learning and teaching in a way that respects each other?
- How can we have fun in a way that does not include teasing and bullying?
- How can we resolve matters of conflict openly and respectfully?
- How do we demonstrate grace when our social climate makes people pay heavily for their mistakes?
- How can we take better care of our environment and our school?
- How can we be more open to learning and achieving our personal best?
- How can we be more accountable for our behaviour?
- How can we foster mutual trust, self-worth and positive relationships?
When we talk openly about these issues, our language and culture becomes more closely aligned. When we revisit the content of our behaviour statements and take time to hone our discipline strategies we begin to walk our talk.
We’re not interested in turning students into emotional cyborgs; robotically modified humans that never put a foot wrong. We want them to play, to debate, to joke, to experiment, to write, to calculate, to research, to feel, to sing, to breathe! We want them to find joy in their learning, while simultaneously taking it very seriously.
Ultimately, we’re interested in growing good people: people of character who conduct themselves in ways that are respectful and honourable to God, themselves, and others.
This post is the second in a series of four articles. Another post in the series will be published each Friday.
For the full article detail, read Charting Course: the way we do things around here.
This article was originally published on the Brisbane Adventist College website, and has been adjusted for use here. Article written and posted in Australian English.