Decisions are like answers to questions. When I think of the word “decision” or “decide” I think of the multiple choice test question where two of the choices seem right, but I can’t decide which one. I also think of Robert Frost’s illustration in his poem “The Road Not Taken”. Like a traveller at a fork in the road, Frost’s words “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back” (Frost, 1920) illustrate the challenges that can come with a simple decision.
It is said in education that teachers make thousands of decisions every day. If you live with a teacher, you may have noticed that at the end of the day, they are tired of questions. This is because they answer so many during the 7-8 hour period we call “school”: “Will we have homework today?”, “Who’s turn is it?”, “Can I go to the bathroom?” That last one is for you English teachers. But, at the end of the day any teacher will tell you that they are tired of decisions and questions. I believe that mindless sitcoms are distinct favorites of teachers for this very reason.
“Do the right thing”. Out of all of my graduate work, these words of my mentor stick in my mind. While completing the practicum portion of my master of education administration degree, I worked under the supervision of Christopher White. Mr. White is principal at Crossroads Charter Academy in Big Rapids, Michigan. In one of our many discussions regarding the many decisions that a principal makes, he answered, “Do the right thing”. I don’t exactly remember the question that necessitated this answer, but the question was about the sometimes difficult and often complex issues that principals deal with. On the face of it, the answer seemed too simple, and yet there is a lot of wisdom in the simple stuff. It can get so easy to focus on the complexities of problems that your attention can get distracted from the basics. I think this is where Mr. White wanted to direct my attention, and in discussions with many other principals, I have heard similar advice.
I think that part of this has to do with the difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is the understanding of facts while wisdom is the ability to understand knowledge and apply it for lasting success. As Christians, we recognize that true wisdom is from God. And it is found in His word. This is where Lutheran Schools thrive because they are rooted in God’s word. Lutheran teachers, with the help of the Holy Spirit, not only impart facts and figures but also wisdom to their students. All of this, because they are called by an Omniscient God into their mission field.
This can lead a person to ask, “And what about when we get it wrong?” Here too our Lutheran Schools are equipped to lead people in the way they should go. We recognize that we all are sinful and in need of God’s saving grace. Our Lutheran schools talk about and show forgiveness. When troubles arise, and they always do, we find peace in the fact that there is forgiveness. We find comfort in God’s word which shows us examples of God choosing imperfect people to do His work on earth. Like a sower who scatters seed, we instruct students in our Lutheran Schools and pray that those seeds of God’s word take root in our students. That seed of God’s wisdom makes Lutheran Education vital in our world today.