By Milton V. Uecker, EdD
Part 8 of 8 part series (2005)
Fortunately for the adolescent, this foolish means to fulfillment no longer is enough. “Every person has an active disposition to choose to be the kind of person who trusts in his own resources, rather than in Christ’s to make life work” (Huggins 1989, 119). However, Huggins views adolescence as “designed by God to literally stop kids in their tracks and make them wrestle with some serious questions before they proceed into adulthood” (123). Unless they discover the truth about themselves and the life that is available through Christ, they will continue to seek meaningful living, while never finding it, through working their foolish plan. It is at this point that teachers can have a dramatic impact. Teachers in whom students have come to trust can speak the truth to them.
Find rest, O m soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him,
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8, NIV
They need to hear God’s truths as expressed by Dallas Willard (2005) throughout the Leadership Academy: “You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.” “Grace is God acting in your life to accomplish what you cannot do alone.” “You are an unspeakable treasure in God’s mind.” As the Holy Spirit penetrates the heart that has been romanced with these truths, adolescents are set free of their foolishness; otherwise they will continue to live for themselves. This is why teachers must assume the role of counselors and friends—academic teaching alone will fall short.
Integrating the truth into one’s personality during adolescence takes time and energy. Unfortunately the adolescent lacks both. Because of overprogramming and academic demands, there is often no time to devote to the work of integrating one’s personality. Willard’s teaching on the disciplines of quiet and solitude are not only effective in the spiritual realm but critical components of healthy personal development on the part of the adolescent. Unless students have the time during high school to take on faith’s beliefs as their own, they will enter college as seekers rather than disciples. It is the responsibility of school leadership to monitor the degree to which the school is hindering spiritual growth through overprogramming as opposed to investing time in embracing the truth.
Becoming serious about spiritual transformation or making disciples is a declaration of war. Satan does not want children to experience the fullness found in kingdom living. Leaders, their staff, and the parents must join together in prayer on behalf of the battle that is daily fought within the school. I once had a teacher who was used by God in the growth of entire families. Because of this, families coveted placements within her classroom each year. I remember her answer to my inquiry as to why she felt her teaching was so successful. She replied, “I guess it has something to do with the first thing I do each day. Every morning I walk around my classroom praying that God’s work will be accomplished. I pray specifically for the lessons of that day and for individual children. I stand, in the name of Jesus, against any tactic of the enemy in the lives of my students.” This powerful key to success is available to all teachers and all schools.
Leading students to kingdom living takes understanding and a concentrated effort on the part of school leadership. Leaders must become students of their students and mindful of current “best practice” in the area of spiritual transformation. Leaders must stand back and assess what is currently going on and then be willing to evaluate the effectiveness of their kingdom curriculum. Leaders must earnestly seek the Lord and be guided by the Holy Spirit in regard to any changes that must be made. Biblical learning leads to changes in the learner—changes that are a result of obedience. Is God calling for an obedient response related to your school’s efforts toward spiritual transformation? Where change may be needed, step out boldly for the sake of the students, the realization of the school’s mission, and most importantly, for the sake of the kingdom.