Planting Trees

Planting Trees

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Planting trees under whose shade we do not expect to sit

Two experiences have recently informed my thinking about the school’s vision to ‘seek God’s Kingdom in education’.

As I flicked through the memorabilia of last year’s 40th Anniversary celebrations, I couldn’t help but be challenged and inspired by our ‘founding families’ and their vision for a school like MECS.

On any given day, MECS looks much like any other school. It’s a very human place with all the joys and mundane problems of any school.

But our founding families had a vision for a Christian school, one in which the Word of God was foundational, one where the over-arching Biblical story was lived out and explored in every classroom and office, and one where Christian community could be experienced and shared. Fundamentally our founders had already discovered that the meaning of life was not to be found in the trinkets of life; in the ornaments that have been so much a part of Western culture. The meaning of life was not to be found in the notion of success, of material security, of comfort, of money, of fame or popularity.

On the contrary, our founding parents knew very well that the real meaning of life – and I am going to express it in an image that I really like – is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit. That is precisely what many of our founders did. By the time they saved the money on their limited resources to purchase the land and to build the first buildings, some of their children had already completed most of their education. But that did not deter them, because they knew that the true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.

The same applies to us now as teachers and parents. As I read through a number of student reports recently I was reminded that the results of our work may not ever be enjoyed by us in any great measure. We work with children year after year. We encourage, admonish and teach them; learn with them, pray for, and with them. We faithfully report to parents on the progress of their children throughout their time at school. But after that we don’t often know what becomes of them, how their lives turn out, what influence we might have had. That is the nature of our task. We plant trees under whose shade we do not expect to sit.

Similarly, for parents. Although we might see some progress along the way, the real outcomes of parenting may not be seen for 20, 30 or 40 years. Parents, too, plant trees under whose shade they do not expect to sit.

This concept is one that we must pass on to our students and children. Our mission statement puts it like this –
“We provide Parent-governed, Christ-centred schooling with learning experiences that challenge each student to actively live for God in His world …”

Not with expectation of material reward, not for the plaudits of others, not even for the satisfaction of seeing how that ‘living for God’ benefits others, but simply in response to the understanding that God commands us to use all our gifts and talents in bringing about His Kingdom, or perhaps more poeticially to plant trees under whose shade we do not expect to sit.

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