The work of Christ establishes in us a belonging to community,and this shared belonging is foundational to experience of the Father. We are to be both participants and instruments of belonging, the kind of belonging that creates joy.
Unless it be atrophied, every human has a natural desire to explore those realms open to the intellect, to feed upon history, literature,nature, science, art, other persons, and ultimately God. "For this is eternal life, to know God" (John 17:3)
Nothing builds esteem and belonging like the experience of genuine interest...Not for any utilitarian reason, but simply because you find me to be of value.
-Quotes from "Primacy of Belonging" resource
We often think about achievement in terms of conquering,mastering, outperforming, or out-competing an opponent. And while that is appropriate to the chess board, athletic field, business life, and battle zone,is that the most appropriate, most fruitful, way to think about life when it comes to child rearing and education? When we think about our own child's relationships us, with his or her siblings, their classmates and teachers,studies, and ultimately God, is there a more authentic context to consider their success?
We all know that our children will eventually be called to play their part as adults. But what experiences matter the most to prepare them? What equips a boy or girl, just starting out in life, to begin and continue to cultivate a character and way of being that will help him or her become and do the following:
· choose to do the right thing, no matter the consequences;
· be a friend, no matter the social cost;
· be faithful to one's family and church, no matter the temptations or excuses to be otherwise;
· be a parent who acts lovingly with authorized authority,avoiding the pitfalls of laxity and legalism;
· act as a citizen keeping in mind the long-game of cultural challenges and opportunities;
· be a rare leader; live out daily the fruits of the Spirit--love,joy, peace, peace, patience, kindness,
· goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)--in all relationships;
· and ultimately, to grow in friendship with and loyalty to the Living God?
What if how much we belonged to a worthy community was one of the most important aspect of a child's growth? What if success--academic, career, or any other measurement--was not ultimately based on how smarter or faster or stronger than our child is than someone else, but instead is a function of how mature he or she is in his or relationships within a community? What if our children learned now how to shape and strengthen each other's weaknesses and potential, respecting each other's gifts and talents, choosing to be life-long friends? What if they did this within 18+years of godly, caring, authoritative adults leading them, who are likewise learning how to do this?
The Apostle Paul's exhortation to the Corinthian believers about seeing life as Christ's body comes to mind.
"But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is apart of it..." (1 Corinthians 12: 24b-27)
Whether it is within one's family, church, school, and/or range of friends, our sense of belonging (or lack thereof) shapes how each of us relates to other people. It also forms our expectation and measurement criteria for what the good life is and feels like--what it means to excel, achieve, and flourish.
Join us in this good work of digging deeper into Scripture,consulting the experiences of several millennia of faithful Christ-followers,and getting to know each other's journeys. Each of us has a role to play in helping others belong. How can you play your part, for both your child's sake and for everyone else's?
One such way of contributing to this conversation is to read along with our parents and staff who were present at this week's Parent Formation event. The four page document "Primacy of Belonging" speaks to the critical nature of belonging as the foundational stone for growth,achievement, success, and faithfulness in all relationships and callings.
Click here to access this insightful resource or drop by the front office to pick up a copy.