Rational for Chritian Words of Power
Building Christian Values through our ‘Christian Words of Power’
Resilience, Faith, Reflectiveness, Love, Resourcefulness, Kindness, Reciprocity, Friendship
The education of young minds requires perseverance; optimism and the faith that we will reach long-range goals. The teachings of the Bible and the skills required for success in education over-lap and are effectively identical. We have identified at Chilmark and Fonthill Bishop a distinctively Christian Curriculum, we aim to:
1. Develop a core set of beliefs that nothing can shake – Faith & Resilience
Educational studies have shown that a characteristic of the resilient is a strong sense of right and wrong. In addition to identifying core values, the experts recommend that you regularly evaluate how well you are living your values (self-examination) and strive to reach higher standards (grow).
This understanding is consistent with the Bible. However, the Bible goes a step further by emphasising not just any core values but the right values. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). In other words, prove the Bible is the Word of God and live it. The more closely God’s core values are followed, the more resilience increases.
2. Try to find meaning in whatever stressful or upsetting thing has happened – Reciprocity, Reflectiveness & Friendship
In educational research, emotional readiness to learn and emotional literacy is a key factor to success. One effective method for developing these skills has been to encourage children to help others. By focusing on helping others, they have helped their own recovery and given meaning to their own suffering. Here is another example of a fundamental biblical principle—give to others.
In a broader sense, our trials serve as a training program to help us see our weaknesses and grow. Job’s experience is an excellent example (James 5:11). David expressed it well: “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment” (Psalm 66:10-12, emphasis added throughout).
Peter recognized that resilience was among the key components signifying growth. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).
3. Try to maintain a positive outlook - Reflection
It is important to understand that there can be meaning to the trials we face. That through this reflectiveness we gain optimism.
However, a special kind of optimism is required. Resilient optimists rarely ignore the negative; they learn from it and change. It is a form of what we call self-examination and repentance. On the other hand, unrealistic optimists tend to overestimate their ability, underestimate their risk and inadequately prepare. Pride controls their life, and they don’t view change as necessary.
We know trials will come (1 Peter 4:12-13). We understand that while there is such a thing as time and chance (Ecclesiastes 9:11), most of our problems should lead us to self-examination and growth. From the Bible, a more suitable term than optimism is hope. Romans 5:1-5 summarizes the fullness of hope.
Here the Bible takes a different track from the experts. While the experts suggest that optimism leads to resilience, God suggests a more coupled interaction that works both ways. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Here we see that perseverance (resilience) leads to hope (optimism).
Yet in Romans 8:25 we see the reverse. “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Here the scripture indicates that hope leads to resilience. A contradiction? No, but rather an indication that hope and resilience reinforce each other interchangeably as we learn and grow.
4. Take cues from someone who is especially resilient - Friendship
In other words, follow the examples of others who succeeded with perseverance. That’s excellent advice if you choose the right examples, of which God has provided many.
God goes a step further and asks us to also learn from the examples of those who failed (1 Corinthians 10:6-11).
5. Don’t run from things that scare you; face them- Faith & Resilience
Researchers have found that the resilient tend to face their problems rather than run from them—and not just the big things. How you cope with the small problems is a strong predictor of how you will deal with the big ones. Dealing with your daily problems provides training for when the “big one” hits (Luke 16:10).
This concept is consistent with how God expects us to not only examine ourselves and face our sins (2 Corinthians 13:5), but learn from them and change, repent and grow (2 Peter 3:18). Each trial that is overcome is training for the next challenge through self-examination, repentance and change.
6. Be quick to reach out for and offer support when things go haywire – Friendship Faith & Love
God has set up a dual-support system for us. First, He provides direct access to Him through prayer. Second He gives us the support of the Church through both individual relationships and prayers. Scientists now use functional magnetic resonance imaging to track such things as brain neural activity and blood flow. For example, the emotions associated with rejection, loneliness and worrying about the past or future activate the same neural pathways as fear. However, those who have developed the habit of reaching out for support are training other neural pathways that don’t reinforce the fear circuits. Over time, these new pathways can become the usual response to stress, resulting in less fear.
God’s Love gives us a helping hand. First, He provides direct access to Him through prayer. Second He gives us the support of the Church through both individual relationships and prayers. Reaching out through prayer can train our brains to react more calmly to stress, creating more resilience—a renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2).
7. Learn new things as often as you can - Resourcefulness
Studies show that engaging the mind in learning, as well as meditating on this knowledge, raises resilience through the renewing of the mind.
This idea fits right in with the biblical admonitions to study and meditate.
8. Don’t beat yourself up or dwell on the past- Love and Reflectiveness
At some point, we all need to act in Love and forgive. Some people may not want your forgiveness or care whether you forgive them or not. However, it may be important for you to forgive so you can move on with your life.
Forgiveness is central to the New Covenant. “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). It is through forgiveness that we can put the past behind us and move on with our lives—an essential component of perseverance.
9. Find an exercise regimen you’ll stick to - Resilience
Scientists have found that over time a person’s reaction to stress is improved through regular exercise. This is why, sport and active play are so important in school.
Here is one area where the Bible is nearly silent. Although the Bible speaks primarily to the spiritual, there are suggestions to maintain physical health. Paul sums it up well. “But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
10. Recognize what makes you uniquely strong—and own it - Faith
People tend to point toward an individual’s personal strengths as a key to resilience. Such strengths clearly can play a role. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
But what is it that makes us uniquely strong? Abraham had it. Moses had it. David had it. Daniel had it. Peter had it. Paul had it. The answer is faith.
Words that build Christian Values and Building Learning Power (BLP)
Educational researchers have concluded that Values, are not linked to a disposition or personality type. Rather, they are a skill set that can be learned, making it possible to not only endure trials but to thrive during and after them. Scientific studies have led to a number of tips from the experts on how to increase this skill set (for example BLP)
These recommendations (BLP) are generally consistent with the biblical principle of growing toward perfection and include many of the key components of Christianity. Beginning with the basic concept of proving the Bible is the Word of God and living it, the list includes learning from biblical examples, self-examination, repentance, forgiveness, prayer, Bible study, meditation, hope and faith.
Applying these principles can make a major impact on how successful we are in conquering our trials and challenges. Therefore, at Chilmark and Fonthill Bishop we have created our ‘Words of Power’, so that we think and debate on the skills and values we need to provide a distinctively Christian education.
We keep to our philosophy of pupil centered practice by involving the School Council and Pupils in the creation of and exploration of these values and exploring them as themes (for example recent work on internet safety and anti-bullying). This is more powerful than just exploring Christian values through assemblies/open the book/RE lessons, as these are often seen by pupils as being in isolation to the rest of the curriculum.
To improve personal involvement, we are developing ‘deeper questioning’ skills. This initiative links the school’s work on building inference through reading and observation to the asking of more philosophical questions (Philosophy for Children) this is a cross curricular approach that works alongside the ‘words of power’.
This has also been linked to the visual approach taken by the Understanding Christianity resource. We have an artist who is working with the pupils to create a visual/allegorical artwork that will represent our words of power and serve as a source for future philosophical questioning and thinking.