A Year of Evidence Part 7: Directing Choices
Dr. Dennis Demuth
Long before Bruce McIntosh (1989) coined the term the "spoiled child syndrome" and behaviors associated with this syndrome - excessive, self-centered, immature behavior, recurrent temper tantrums, etc., Paul warned in Col. 2:8 of an even greater spoiling that is taking place, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Unlike the “spoiled child syndrome” where behavior is readily noticeable, the spoiling that Paul addresses is not always so obvious, at first. For example, a potato starts to rot from the inside out. Even when the outside looks acceptable, on the inside there is a gradually rotting that is taking place. If it were not for the smell, the rotting would go unnoticed.
Changing Values and Convictions
Just as the Colossian Christians were being taken captive by wrong philosophy, wrong teaching and false doctrines, over the years there has been a marked change in how Christian parents and young people view the world in which they live and the values and convictions that guide their daily behavior. For example, reverence for God, His house, His property, morality, courtesy, ethics, purity, swearing, criticism, gossip, to name a few.
At one time, nearly every Christian school in Tulsa held its students accountable to a twenty-four hour code of conduct. It is unclear as to why other schools have backed off from enforcing such a code; it may be related to a watering down of off campus behavior standards, or the amount of work and effort it takes to monitor such a code. Currently, Victory is the only
Christian school is Tulsa that still has this standard of accountability. Parents expect Victory to hold its students to the standards it promotes and to help prevent spoiling.
Differences among Families
As Victory Christian School has grown in the number of families that attend (students from over a 168 different congregations), there has also been an increase in the differences among the families in terms of their perception of behavioral and spiritual expectations for their children. Although the goals and objectives of the school have not changed, the effort it takes to communicate these goals and objectives requires a lot more effort on the part of the school.
Each year we find ourselves having to expand our student handbook to provide additional guidelines for students and parents so they can understand the behavioral expectations of being part of the VCS family. If we were to address all the differences of opinion and behavioral expectations and interpretations of all the families and students at Victory, our current handbook would require many, many more pages.
Focus on Principles
We have chosen to identify a set of behavioral expectations based on guiding principles found in God’s Word rather than relying on a handbook to list all the do’s and don’ts. Although there are some who are strong promoters of such lists, as soon as a list is produced, there will be items that did not make the list; since an item was not on the “don’t” list, it would be interpreted as being “ok’ to do. For example, if a school placed “sextexting” on its “don’t” list, then other unwholesome messages could be interpreted as being “ok” to be sent over cell phones.
Establishing guiding principles rather than a comprehensive list of “dos and don’ts” provides a better framework for students, parents and staff as they live their lives. Hopefully, when our students graduate they will still allow these principals to guide their lives.
1. Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
2. If you then be risen in Christ, seek those things that are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on the things above, not on things in the earth (Col. 3:1-2).
3. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17).
4. Love not the world, either the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (I John 2:15-16)
5. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). When we seek to be led by the Spirit of God, it is always away from the world.
6. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1).
7. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome the latter end is worse with them than the beginning (II Peter 2:20). We should not turn back to worldly pleasures.
8. Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof (II Tim. 3:4-5).
9. Know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God (James 4:4; also I Thes. 5:22)?
10 They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Gal. 5:24).
11 Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, saith the Lord (II Cor. 6:17).
12 If we believe a certain thing not specifically mentioned in Scripture is wrong, but one of our Christian friends does this thing and feels it is right, it is wrong for us (Romans 14:1-6; 14:21; I
13. So then you will know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:20).
14. Our heart, mind, soul and strength must be directed towards God (I Peter 3:3-4). When we fall in love with Jesus, I love Him so much that my do's and don'ts fall in place. Unacceptable conduct drops off when it is replaced with something better.
15. Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you (Phil. 4:9).
16. Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ (I Cor. 11:1).
17. Be ye then, an example of the believers, in word, in conversation….(1 Time 4:12).
Since these principles are contained in our student handbook, parents who enroll their children will expect the school to provide evidence that these principles are being taught. This places a lot of responsibility upon the school staff to guide and direct behavior.
One way of guiding students into making the right decisions based on these scriptural principles is to be proactive in getting students to ask themselves six questions about any given behavior. If they respond to any one of these with a “no” they should seriously consider not engaging in the behavior under question.
1. Would Jesus engage in this behavior?
2. Would this behavior bring Glory to Him?
3. Would this behavior build His cause and Kingdom?
4. Will this behavior leave the right influence upon a weaker Christian?
5. Does this behavior make the best use of time?
6. This behavior would not be a stumbling block to others.
A “no” answer to any of these would indicate that the student needs to work on allowing the image of Christ to be better developed in them.