Category Christian School Comment
Title 47.2 Is the Grass Always Greener?
Author/s Dan Egeler, Michael W. Allen
Preview A pervasive and damaging message in Western culture is that newer is better. When your vehicle has lost its new-car scent, you’d better upgrade; if your church doesn’t meet your needs, switch to the one across town. This mentality can also affect our view of our children’s education. I’ve invited Michael W. Allen, head of Evansville Christian School, to address that topic here.

In 2010, my wife and I moved back to Evansville, Indiana, after 12 years away. Our new home was great for us as a family with two young boys: four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a playroom, a bonus room-and all for a great price! After about a year of living there, Kim and I found ourselves rumbling. Gratitude gave way to entitlement. "Isn't this amazing?" became "I wish we had _____________." "We have four bedrooms!" faded into "Our master bedroom is too small."

In 2013, we moved into what Kim described as her dream home: a really old house with a lot of character (built in 1827, it's the oldest wood-framed home in Evansville!). Lo and behold, after two years of living there we saw pictures of a different, newly renovated old home, and they became the seed for dissatisfaction with our "dream" home. This is what convinced me that one of the most common phrases of all time is also one of greatest lies: the grass is not always greener on the other side.

When families enroll their children in a Christian school, it is much more of a commitment than a decision. The commitment comes with financial obligations. It comes with expectations that things will be better or that the school will fix something. When, inevitably, something challenges the original vision of a perfect union between education, family, and Jesus, all those obligations and expectations get reevaluated. The ensuing conversations go something like this:

  • "I bet if our kids were at a different school, I wouldn't be dealing with this!"
  • "Our kids could get a lot more opportunities for athletics at a bigger school, and I wouldn't be paying tuition!"
  • "My kids need more 'real world' experiences, and they could get that if they weren't in a Christian school."

These conversations can frustrate families and strain relationships. But would a new school really fix the problems? I have found that "new" rarely provides any real solution, no matter the context. How, then, does a family keep its commitment to Christian education fresh and alive? Perhaps the following guidelines can help give perspective.

Recognize your "grass is greener" mentality. Andy Stanley, in his book Deep and Wide (2012) says, "time in erodes awareness of " (139). The more time an individual spends in or connected to something or someone, the more at risk that individual is of failing to see its value. Again, think marriage. "Time in" and cultural messages like "Life's short. Get a divorce" simply reinforce our flawed belief that new is better. Christian education is no different. Time in can indeed erode awareness of. This mentality thrives in a consumerist, materialistic society such as ours.

Know your family mission. When you can expressly state what your family stands for, making and keeping commitments toward that mission is much easier. For example, one aspect of our family's mission is to be brave and intentional in response to God's Word. For us, that means we want our boys to be trained up not only in the Word of God, but also in viewing the world through the lens of the gospel. We want, as a family, to intentionally respond to God's Word in our hearts, our relationships, and our community. The best way for our boys to experience this core and expressly stated value of our family is to have them in a Bible-based, educationally challenging school. When relationships become challenging or reality does not meet our expectations, we can easily return to our family's core values to gain perspective on our frustration. Finding resolution is more important than cutting ties because we understand our family's mission.

If your grass is struggling, water it! False expectations are hard to manage and easy to be deceived by. Everyone has heard, "The grass is greener on the other side," but few truly understand the following response: "You may think the grass is greener on the other side, but if you take the time to water your own grass, it would be just as green" (author unknown). Instead of looking for how a Christian school isn't meeting every need, what if your family looked for opportunities to plug in and create better opportunities and experiences for others? Is that not the model Jesus designed? Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:3-6, "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you ... because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Paul saw that Christ intended His church to have a lasting, committed partnership which He would bring to fruition. So instead of looking to how others might fulfill our needs, let us look to the Father and ask Him how we might fulfill the needs of others who are right in front of us!

The Allens still live in our "dream" home. It's the kind of dream that needs continual maintenance, and there is always a project happening. But that's the reality of living in a broken world patiently awaiting the return of its Savior. I think we'll stay.

Dan Egeler, EdD
President, ACSI

Stanley, Andy. 2012. Deep and Wide: Creating churches unchurched people love to attend. Michigan: Zondervan. 

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