Principals Pen Thursday, 31 Jan 2019

On the surface, rules serve a community well. They exist to promote harmony and maintain safety. It can be so easy to follow the rules. Do this. Don’t do that. Say this. Don’t say that.

But by simply following the rules, we are not thinking or maturing. We’re just doing what we’re told. We are merely being compliant and maybe even robotic. We are being told what to think, rather than learning to think for ourselves. And relying on the rules results in us pushing accountability aside, ‘Well, I followed the rules, so the injury I caused is actually the fault of the rule-maker.’

What if, instead of being told to ‘do this’ or ‘do that’, we instead asked ourselves: ‘What does love require of me?’

It can be a difficult question to process, yet serves as a powerful way to frame our decision-making. Imagine a world where this one pack-a-punch question exists in place of rules. That is, a world that is less about our rights and more about our responsibilities.

This is the world Jesus came to create. Jesus came to this earth when it was functioning under what we call the ‘old covenant’. There were Ten Commandments, which were essentially as a list of ‘thou shalt nots’. In his typical radical way, Jesus tossed the ‘thou shalt nots’ aside and replaced them with one simple concept: love. Jesus outrageously overrode the old law. The new covenant is uncomplicated – love God and love each other.

Love, in this context, is not so much about a warm fuzzy feeling, but more about choosing or making the decision to treat others with care, dignity and respect. We call it agape. Agape is love of the highest form – it’s selfless, compassionate and unconditional.

So, what does love require of me in 2019? I can think of a gazillion things in relation to my family, to my workplace, and to my community involvement. While I will make every attempt to daily ask myself what love requires of me as I move throughout 2019, I know I will make mistakes and let people down. I’m human, after all. But I also know I will receive forgiveness from those around me and from my unfathomably compassionate God. And so, I dive into 2019 with great ambition to love when it’s easy and to love when it’s difficult.

So, what does love require of you in 2019?

Indulge me with an afterthought: Rules exist to promote harmony and maintain safety. They absolutely serve a purpose in our society and most certainly within our school community. In order to nurture children who are humble stewards of the gifts and talents they are blessed with, when guiding or assisting a child to make a decision, instead of jumping straight to a rule reminder start by asking, ‘What does love require of you in this situation?’ Engage in a deep conversation of problem-solving around this question and see where it takes you. You might be surprised. Let me know how you go! (Oh, and have the rule reminder as a non-negotiable back-up, but use only if required! Remember that our goal is not to tell children what to think, but to teach them how to think.)

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

Jane Mueller, Principal