Mrs. Bosveld is a wife and mother in Hope Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In a parable found in Luke 12, Jesus summarizes His teaching with this admonition, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…” (Luke 12:48). These words of the Lord ought to speak to our hearts. The Protestant Reformed churches have been given much from the Lord. We have been blessed with a profound understanding of the Truth. We have a seminary with faithful professors who strive to train our men in these truths. And we have churches wherein the Word of God is faithfully preached.
In addition to the great blessing of our churches, we have the wondrous gift of our schools. Gratitude must be given to God for granting our forefathers the wisdom to recognize the need for Protestant Reformed schools. Not simply Christian schools, butProtestant Reformed schools. Schools in which their children and grandchildren would be taught to walk in the fear of the Lord. Schools that, by their very nature, are an extension of our homes and a means whereby we fulfill our baptismal vows. Schools firmly grounded on our understanding of the covenant and its demand to educate the covenant seed. Truly, our Protestant Reformed schools are a most precious gift!
Having been entrusted with such a gift, we have a responsibility to care faithfully for our schools and to support them cheerfully. That responsibility is for all the members of our churches. It is not only for parents and for grandparents, but also for those who do not have children in our schools. Every member of the church as the body of Christ has a calling to support and maintain these schools.
This support for our schools is expressed in two ways: spiritual and physical. If we have a proper spiritual view of our schools, then we will find it much easier to support them physically with our time, energy, and financial resources. The physical support will flow naturally out of a proper spiritual attitude.
A proper spiritual attitude is one of deep appreciation and thankfulness to God for the gift He has given to us in our schools. We ought never to take the blessings of our schools lightly. What a danger it is that we become so accustomed to our schools that we begin to take them for granted. Then we fail to realize their worth. When we do not appreciate the “much” that God has given to us in our schools, we become unworthy of keeping them, and this precious gift will be taken from us. An attitude of gratitude must always govern our thoughts and actions towards our schools.
One way in which we give evidence of our gratitude is through our conversation. When we speak of our schools, especially to our children, we should take care to do so in a positive manner. There are times when it is tempting to focus on the weaknesses of our schools rather than on their strengths. In this life, we and our children have only a beginning of the new obedience. Our schools, like our homes, are tainted with sin. Our children sin in the home against one another, and they will sin in the school against their fellow students. This is reason for humility. And it provides us with opportunities to teach our children the most important lesson for service in the kingdom: to repent when they have sinned against others and to forgive when others have wronged them. That is covenantal education!
We must speak positively, not only of our schools in general, but also of our teachers. Our schools are parental schools, and, as such, they are an extension of our homes. In our schools, we have placed teachers who assist us in our calling to “…bring them [our children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). When we entrust our children to their care, we give to our teachers the right and the authority to stand in our place.
Having done that, we must be careful not to undermine this authority through our careless speech. When we speak of our teachers to our children, we must do so in a spirit of love and gratitude for the work that they do on our behalf. This spirit of gratitude must also be instilled in our children. When our child is critical of a teacher, it is our responsibility to remind him that God placed that teacher in authority over him. God commands him to honor the teacher as he honors his father and mother. Also, we must point out to our children that they are called to bear with the weaknesses and infirmities of their teachers as the Lord bears with them.
A spiritual attitude of thankfulness for our schools will be reflected in our conversation, and also in our prayers. It is our calling and responsibility to bring the needs of our schools before the Lord in prayer. He who has given us the means to establish schools will not leave us in our need.
We must pray for our schools in our homes, in our personal devotions, and in our devotions with our children. It is important that our children hear us praying for the school and also for its teachers. Our teachers need our prayers. Theirs is a difficult and often thankless task. Each day they stand in our place and train our children. Pray that the Lord will grant them the grace and the patience required to fulfill this calling faithfully.
Prayer must arise from the home, and also from the church. Our ministers, as well as our officebearers, are an example to the congregation of faithful, prayerful support of the school. This is evidenced by their congregational prayers, which regularly include petitions for God’s blessings on our schools and their teachers.
We support our schools spiritually and we support them physically. One significant physical means is through financial support. Our schools require a tremendous amount of money to operate. Buildings must be maintained, materials purchased, and teachers employed. Therefore, tuition is necessary.
For many of our families that have several children in school, tuition can be overwhelming. For example, parents who have three children in grade school and one in high school will pay nearly $15,000.00 in tuition forone year. That is a large amount of money! When faced with a sum that great, we may find that our thoughts can easily turn to a life of ease, a life free from the high cost of Christian education. How quickly the Devil tempts us to view the educating of our children as a sacrifice rather than as a privilege! That temptation is one we must fight with our whole being.
The paying of tuition is not the only way we financially support the school. Another source of income for the school is the free-will offerings our churches schedule at different times throughout the year. Our schools also seek support through the deficit drives that are generally held twice a year to raise additional money needed to maintain them. These offerings and drives are ways in which the high costs of operating a school can be shared byall the members of the church, not only those paying tuition. Young and old, men and women, are asked to give generously as the Lord has blessed them. Thanks be to God that our people do indeed give generously to these drives! By sharing in the responsibility to support the school, the financial burden on our families is eased.
Physical support for our schools requires more than money; it also demands personal involvement and a great deal of time. Men and women who have a love for their school will spend countless hours working on the school’s behalf. Much of this work is done quietly and often goes without notice. Rarely do the men who donate their time and materials towards the establishment and maintenance of the school buildings and grounds speak of their efforts. Nor do the women who volunteer in many capacities seek praise for their work. They give of themselves and their abilities out of a deep love and appreciation for the gift that they have been given.
This is true especially with respect to the School Board. What a blessing it is that we have men who are willing to serve on the boards of our schools. These men devote many hours and much energy to the oversight of the school. They work diligently to ensure that our children will receive an education grounded in the precepts of the Lord. How grateful we ought to be for their faithful labors on our behalf!
Another way for men to be personally involved with our schools is to join the School Society. Again, the society must not be viewed as something only for those with children in the school. All men, with or without children, should have a vital interest in the schools, and out of that interest ought to join themselves to the Society. When a man is a member of the Society, he then has the right and opportunity to speak to the issues that pertain to the school.
Women, too, have a responsibility to contribute to the school. God gave to women unique gifts, which can be put to use in the school. Perhaps it should be pointed out here that being busy in the school must never usurp a woman’s role in the home. Caring for children in the home is a woman’s first priority. However, often mothers are able to help in the school in ways that do not interfere with their work in the home. A few examples of this are serving hot lunch, baking snacks for snack sales, playing the piano for classroom devotions, or volunteering as a room mother. None of these things require a great deal of time away from the demands of home and family.
Many of our women belong to their school’s Mother’s Circle or Ladies’ Guild. These women donate their time and energy seeking ways to raise money for the school. The money is then used to purchase those things that, though not essential, are certainly beneficial and greatly enjoyed by all of us.
For a woman who is not yet a mother, or whose children are grown, there are other opportunities for service. She might offer to volunteer a couple of days a week in the classroom as a teacher’s aide. Or a woman might give of her time in the library as a librarian, or by reading to the children who visit the library. Perhaps there are women with special gifts in areas such as music who might use their talents and abilities for the good of the school. These are a few examples. In schools such as ours there are abundant ways in which a woman can make use of her time and abilities. The key is to be involved. Personal involvement is the best way to see firsthand the great blessings found in our schools!
Protestant Reformed Schools. What a wondrous gift! How can we begin to count the many blessings that result from covenantal education? What value can parents and grandparents place upon watching their children in our school programs, singing the Psalms that we hold so dear? How do we measure the lessons learned as we witness the compassion and brotherly love that our children evidence for a hurting classmate? Where else would our children be prepared physically and spiritually for their life of service in the kingdom? Our schools, as extensions of our homes, train our children in the fear of the Lord. The goal of education in our schools is not merely to educate the child so that he can be successful in the world, but also to rear a child who will mature into a man of God, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Truly we have been given a great gift in our Protestant Reformed schools. Let us take heed to the admonition found in the parable ofLuke 12 and strive to maintain them, pray for them, and cherish them. Having done this to the best of our ability, we shall one day hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”