I recently attended a Christian Schools Canada board meeting in Edmonton, where I heard a reflection upon a passage of Scripture that I’ve read many times before. And yet there are those times when something in a verse hits you for the very first time.
The reading was from 1 Chronicles 12. It is a well-known passage, in which David and men from the tribes of Israel are at Hebron, gearing up for battle. David had been banished from the presence of Saul, and had therefore been isolated in the wilderness. He was an appointed leader, but he was alone.
God sent men over to David to help fulfill the promise he had made—that the kingdom would be handed over to him. Men from each tribe came ready to battle for the kingdom, with shields and spears, “fully determined to make David king over all of Israel” (verse 38).
But the verse that caught my attention was verse 32, where we read, “…and from Issachar, [came] men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” What struck me was the plurality of it. It wasn’t a man from Issachar that knew what to do—it was the men of Issachar.
Usually, when we think of wisdom that comes from the Lord, we think of a prophet or an overseer—one person that God has given wisdom to, in order to lead others in His plan for them all. What caught me here in this verse was that this was a whole community of men that understood something deeply, all at the same time.
It got me thinking…that’s exactly it! That’s what we, as a community, are looking for—a common vision among a group of people. That’s what creates a movement. If I reflect on this in terms of the leadership of the OACS, the view changes from that of a “service” or an “institution”, and moves it towards something bigger—a community that shares a vision. A vision that we all understand, so that wherever we are in that community, we are speaking the same language and sharing the same goals.
It amazes me, when I picture it—there were not just a few men of Issachar that understood the times and knew what to do. There were two hundred of them! And they all had a common understanding of what to do. They all understood it. And that was the vision that led David and the men forward into the battle, that would result in the fulfillment of God’s promise for him and for the kingdom of Israel.
What a vision for the OACS! Imagine if we actually had seventy and more schools that shared a similar vision for Christian Education, because we “understood the times” and “knew what to do”.
Yes, there are individual prophetic voices that are in leadership—we need those individuals that fill a role of leadership in our schools. But if we could reciprocate that leadership, a sort of “speaking, catching, speaking back, and sharing,” it could turn towards a more collective leadership, or community-based leadership that reflects the unity of the men of Issachar.
How do we do that? I think we have to be consistent in our vision around Christian education, and find an inter-connectedness. The OACS should not aim to be a “Moses-figure”, being the leader and assuming the rest are followers. The goal is to provide a more integrated, community sense of leadership, so that at any moment any one person could step forward and provide the leadership, because we all “understand the times” and “know what to do”.