Updated: Dec 29, 2021
We started our school year in September eager to be back into the classroom after a year cut short and a summer dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic. After such a difficult and overwhelming end to the school year, we were relieved and grateful to be able to be back together again and have a somewhat normal school year. Heading into this new year, I felt such a burden for our students and for myself as well, to look beyond our own needs and thoughts and feelings and struggles and to focus more on the needs of people around us. As I was thinking about how to bring this “others focus” to the forefront of our school year, the words of our school vision statement came to mind. Our vision statement essentially paints a portrait of a Samuel Fuller graduate, a student who has progressed through the grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages of the trivium, a student who has moved on into adulthood maybe with a family, a job, and life beyond school. For many of our school parents, I'm sure this seems years and years away, but we all know that time is fleeting. And now is the time for us to be thinking about what kind of adults, what kind of humans, what kind of Christians, we want our children to be. So what is this portrait, this vision, we have for our students, and how does it relate to serving others?
First and foremost, this portrait envisions graduating young men and women who love and serve God - the source of all that is true and good and beautiful. To carry on with the portrait-painting analogy, we envision five features that we hope and pray our students will embody:
Critical or serious thinkers
Faithful representatives of Jesus Christ
It’s no coincidence that in our vision statement, this portrait of a graduate, we find “service” mentioned more than once . . . no coincidence because we take our example from Jesus, the master servant. He is who we want to emulate, who we want our students to pattern their lives after. So, with these words from our vision statement in mind, our theme for the year became “Serve Compassionately,” and faculty and students worked together to memorize Philippians 2:1-11, a reminder that Jesus is the ultimate example of humility and servanthood - “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant . . .”
Of course, it’s one thing to talk about service and serving one another, but what should servanthood actually look like for a student at Samuel Fuller School? And . . . we asked our students, what should servanthood look like for them over the summer?
Have eyes that look outward, not inward. As long as I look at my own problems, my own disappointments, my own desires, I cannot be a servant like Jesus was. Pray that God will give you eyes to see the needs of others around you - your parents, your siblings, your grandparents, your friends. Don’t spend this summer living for yourself and your own desires, but “let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others…”
When you are faced with weakness in others around you - in your parents, your siblings, at the playground or the beach - will you take advantage of that weakness, or will you use that weakness as an opportunity to love and serve them? Everyone has needs, everyone has weaknesses and failings - physical, spiritual, intellectual. When you are faced with those needs, how will you respond? Will you serve in the face of weakness? Will you do what is right and good and true and honorable?
Recognize that there are a million little things you can do to serve others, and purpose in your heart to do some of them. From a cheerful “Good Morning!” to volunteering to do extra jobs around the house and yard, make serving others your summer goal. If you want to have the mind of Jesus, if you want to “in humility count others more significant than yourself,” start by obeying your parents. We often think acts of service have to do with collecting items for the food pantry or raking leaves, and those things are wonderful, but if you want to truly have the mind of Jesus - start by simply obeying and honoring your parents. Remember that Jesus left the glory of heaven and humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on the cross.