When I left the role of principal a number of years ago, I remember many conflicting emotions over the change in positions. I acknowledge, however, that the one thing I knew I was not going to miss was the myriad of meetings with board, committees, parents, staff and whatever else draws us back into the building after regular hours.
In His great sense of humour, God has blessed me with a position at the OACS in which I now have more board meetings in a year than I had in my previous position in Peterborough. And to add to it, now rather than a mere 85 steps home after the meeting I often have a long trek home to ruminate about the meeting. No complaints however, that time with boards has been rejuvenating and encouraging. Let me explain …
I recently had a number of board meetings strung together taking me across the province. The size, structure and scope of the boards varied. There were some board members whose children had long graduated and then there were those who had little experience with Christian education and boards. As diverse as the boards and their members were, the common characteristics arose immediately.
The most obvious trait that emerged was the incredible passion and love these people demonstrated for their school and for Christian education. The prayers that began the meetings were deeply thoughtful and asked for God’s presence, wisdom and blessing. I watched as they celebrated joyous moments, grieved illness or death, wrestled deeply with difficult decisions and struggled together when they didn’t agree. However, through it all the deep love and sense of passion to the purpose for which they gathered evidenced itself continually.
They were also desirous to be diligent and prudent in their work; characteristics identified in the Ontario not-for profit act as fundamental to the role of board members. When I would review exciting stuff with them like policies or by-laws or board governance (riveting stuff at the best of times) they would engage and question until they understood. They want the best for the school, for the principal, for the staff, for the students, for the community and they know that it is important to do things properly and in good order. They know this because they know that Scriptures calls us to this also and that this act of obedience will honour their God. Witnessing this in board after board gives me great confidence in our future.
They are also a gifted, talented and skilled group of people that our Lord has provided to lead our school associations. I have been introduced to Christians from all walks of life: farmers, health professionals, legal experts, homemakers, tradesman, entrepeneurs, professionals, professors, pastors, independent contractors and on and on. And yet, when they gather around the board table they become partners, equals, fellow workers seeking to use their gifts to the glory of God and the fulfillment of their calling to be board members.
All of this travel and visiting culminated in a Saturday night 60th anniversary celebration with the Strathroy Community Christian School. Mrs. Rang told of her husband William going to the school in the late 1950’s to interview for a teaching position and how he came home to say that to his surprise he was introduced as the new Principal. Not quite how this would go today but as she sat and read story after story she gave a testimony to God’s faithfulness. That theme continued as past principals spoke of the community.
Ken VanMinnen, current principal of the school, concluded this part of the evening with an amazing challenge. Using the story of David and his battles with lion, bear and Goliath as a back-drop he challenged us to continue to the great work begun in this school (in our schools) so that our children and their children will not capitulates to the giants of our culture but rather be equipped to challenge and oppose them. As I listened to the words of a representative of this generation of leaders I realize that he was picking up the message of past generations of leaders and encouraging us once again.
Four board meetings and an anniversary … evidence that God continues to provide for our schools.