ACS (INTERNATIONAL) has a vision statement that speaks of “developing future leaders with international vision, moral character, intellectual ability and deep compassion for humanity based upon Christian belief and values”.
What are these “Christian values”? All the Methodist schools in which I have worked have stressed not only that Christian values were an essential foundation for the school, but also that the school’s aim was to instil them in their students.
At ACS (International) we have identified 10 “values” which, while they are not separately exclusive to Christians, taken together form something which is distinctively Christian.
1. Mutual acceptance – In Christian schools, there should be a ready acceptance of one another based on the belief that we are all God’s children, created and loved by Him, whatever our ethnic, social or religious background. Students will be taught to respect one another.
2. Compassion – Following the teaching and example of Jesus, students will be encouraged to love their neighbour, recognising the needs of individuals less fortunate than themselves and sacrificing their leisure time, and raising and giving money to provide positive and practical help.
3. Forgiveness – This is a central Christian value. Because God shows His forgiveness of us through the death of Jesus Christ, students will be taught to forgive one another, not to hold grudges and to offer the hand of friendship to those who wrong them.
4. Truth and Honesty – God requires nothing less than the whole truth and students will be taught to be open and honest in their dealings with one another, with teachers and with their parents.
5. Global Responsibility – This is God’s world and we are His stewards. Students will be taught to work and pray for peace between the peoples of the world and for the protection of the environment.
6. Justice and equality – Since God makes no distinctions but treats all similarly and fairly, we will encourage students to treat everyone fairly, irrespective of age, gender, race or religion.
7. Humility – Students need to learn not to consider themselves better than others and to put the interests of others before their own.
8. Servant leadership in the world – Following the One who “came not to be served but to serve”, students should be challenged to give leadership in serving.
9. Integrity – Students should be taught the importance of living these values and not just giving them lip service.
10. Commitment and faith – Students should be taught that the vision and resolve to fulfil these values come from a God-centred life.
I imagine many schools would concur with these values, except perhaps the last one. But what about values in the school itself? A Christian school will not only teach these values, but demonstrate them in the way it treats those within its community.
There will, therefore, be no tolerance of racism or any form of bullying.
All people will be treated with kindness and understanding.
Schools will be forgiving. That does not mean ignoring wrong-doing, but looking beyond people’s faults, and, where it is genuinely sought, giving a second chance.
Schools will be open and honest with students and staff as well as with parents.
Schools will be “green” communities, avoiding waste and recycling when possible. Schools will treat people fairly, and administer discipline impartially. Those in positions of responsibility will be humble and see themselves as servants of the community.
There will be a harmony of belief and action.
And above all, there will be a conscious attempt to place God at the centre of
the schools life – both in formal acts of worship of the whole community and through the prayers of those in authority. Methodist schools express these Christian values in a tradition that goes back to John Wesley who believed that a Christian school should combine sound learning with developing good habits, and that the way to this was not only good teaching but strong pastoral care, believing that all are loved by God and are able to respond to His love. Wesley challenged teachers and students alike to:
Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can.
The Rev Dr John Barrett is retiring as Principal of ACS (International) at the end of the month.
Listen only to the Master’s word “STAND STILL, and see the salvation of the LORD … ” – Exodus 14:13.
These words contain God’s command to the Christian when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut upon the right hand and on the left. What is he to do now?
The Master’s word to him is “stand still”. It will be well for him if, at such times, he listens only to his Master’s word, for evil advisers and others come with their suggestions.
Despair whispers, “Lie down and die; give it all up.” Cowardice says, “Retreat; go back to the world’s way of action; you cannot play the Christian’s part; it is too diﬃcult. Relinquish your principles.”
Presumption boasts, “If the sea is before you, march into it.” – KneEmail.