What is our “widget”?
Matt 6:34 is a beautiful verse in the old King James language. “Do not worry for the ‘morrow. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof…” Wow! This verse speaks volumes to me as Jesus tells us to focus on today. Live for today. Know that today is fleeting. Yesterday is over. All we can do is learn from it. Tomorrow is just a goal. All we can do is plan for it. Today is the day the Lord has made. I will be glad and rejoice in it.
My wife is a first grade teacher and almost always comes home tired but ecstatic and on cloud nine at how well her students, “her kids”, are doing. But all too often she comes home frustrated and stressed about ever changing expectations, and how the system keeps moving the target. After many years of discussions over the education system, I see a trend developing which no one wants to talk about.
One of my degrees is in management. I have worked in nonprofits, the federal government, as a football coach, and with businesses who have a bottom line. After processing my wife’s concerns over the years, it seems we have a disconnect between a system that doesn’t have a bottom line, trying to produce future workers for a system that can only survive if they are in the black.
In a production sense, (and I agree this may be overly simplified), our schools don’t seem to know what their widget is anymore. When the school system realizes their widget is a productive citizen with a diploma, who respects the law and their neighbor and is a contributor to society and not a drain, then we can focus on improving the widget. The widget is not a set of test scores that outpace Germany on some global scale.
Let me be clear. This is not the teacher’s fault. We now live in such a way that a 54 percent dropout rate in Oklahoma City does not sound alarm bells. Less than half of the kids graduating should be unacceptable. No company could stay in business if they produced a final product from less than half of their raw materials. Industry has a word for what is left over from the production process. They call it waste.
We have taken God and godliness out of the school under the guise of freedom and now we are surprised our schools are ungodly. After confronting a secular world view many Christian families choose to protect their children by opting for the homeschool or private school model. One answer may be to consider the public schools a mission field and send our “missionaries” to universities so they can become teachers and then have a major impact on the lives of young people for the next 30 years. I am a product of the public school system and some of the biggest influences in my life were Christian teachers, Campus Life and those cool FCA meetings.
In the same sense, our churches must understand we are called to engage the community. There was a time in this country when the school house was also the church house. Jesus told us what our “widget” is. We are to make disciples. We are not to manufacture an experience or produce some new vision or worldview. Fortunately, God is consistent. He loves us and deserves our worship and obedience. Our target doesn’t change. Our widget is clearly defined. God never changes. Ethical precepts never change. Personal accountability does not change. Ultimate hope does not change. Oh we may modernize buildings, worship styles or music, but as we are told at the end of Hebrews, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever….. sufficient for the day……