Lesson 4. Be All-In: committing to something bigger than yourself
In the 2013 Oxford University Press book, Families and Faith, the authors examine how religion is passed down from one generation to the next (or isn’t). If you’re curious, the groups which do the best job of passing on their faith share these characteristics:
1. High standards, combined with warmth
2. Strong inter-generational relationships
3. Parents who are “all-in”
We won’t spend time on the first one. You can probably imagine the problems associated with having only high standards, or only warmth, or neither of those. At Trinitas, we are committed to creating an environment that fosters both. Let us say something brief about the second one. Studies referenced in the book see a strong connection between passing on one’s faith and having several faith-filled persons of varying ages in a child’s life. Children can be greatly blessed by the relationships they have with extended family and church members of varying ages, but a child’s school can provide the proverbial “third leg of the stool”. At Trinitas, the students’ relationships with their teachers and other students of varying ages help to grow their faith. Engaging in daily worship, classroom work, lunch, and play across the grades help to create an affection for and commitment to the Christian life.
Now the third thing: the book drew attention to the importance of parents who are “all-in”, meaning parents who talk the talk and walk the walk. Simply put, if you want your kids to share your faith, they should see your own commitment to and delight in it. We tend to do this more naturally with things like sports and music. Our children often end up with interests similar to our own because, for example, a parent may enjoy tennis and play game after game, watch it, read about it, travel for it, and just share his or her delight in it. Whatever your passion – choral music, hiking, woodworking – the interest you show for it and the energy you spend in pursuit of it will be evident to the young eyes watching you and learning from you.
We’d say the same about being part of a classical Christian school community—be “all-in”. Your commitment to the project and delight in it should be obvious to your children. In addition to your church membership, it can be a powerful example of the blessings of being part of something bigger than yourself. There’s a kind of other-focused generosity about such participation that it’s worthy to cultivate. One of the exciting things about starting Trinitas was the realization that we could help create a classical Christian school not only for our own children but for others as well. That excitement has grown as we continue to participate in the life of this community. If such joy is evident to your children, it will likely be contagious. We’ve certainly seen it in the lives of Trinitas graduates who often tell us of their gratitude for their time here.
Our challenge to you is to commit to this education for your child(ren). Be all-in, and stay all-in. Stick it out through the difficulties. There will likely be some challenges, but let your commitment be evident to your children as you work through the harder times together. In our next lesson we’ll look a particular challenge that is not uncommon for those who have sought out a Christian classical education for their child(ren).