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All through high school I had this one question – why is my value as a human being determined by a letter that may or may not be accompanied by a mathematical sign?
Yeah, my quarter life crisis came about a decade earlier than usual.
To which, I’d always get the response – just get the A and you’ll figure it out later.
Nope. Not good enough for me.
I didn’t get the A – not then, anyway – but here I am a decade later standing on my feet.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning.
The most joy I’ve had in our education system was undoubtedly during my kindergarten days. I went to kindergarten when kids were still allowed to be kids. Learning was fun – we always got bright, colourful star stickers for a job well done. Even when the job well done was a bunch of squiggly lines on a page. We were allowed to progress at our individual paces – no exams or ranking. I didn’t even know what homework was until I got to primary school.
It was in primary school that education was made a life and death matter. We were pitted against each other in exams – let’s be real, half the time exams have nothing to do with testing knowledge and understanding and everything to do with rank – who’s better than who. We were prepared to pass exams, not really to be fruitful in life.
This was further amplified in high school – you better get THAT grade or you’ll be a nobody. With all this negative reinforcement for learning, is it a wonder that most people don’t want to go anywhere near books/learning after they survive system?
The culmination of it all is university where we have to pick courses and careers based on their “marketability” rather than our ability (and purpose). And we wonder why we have so many qualified certified jobless people. Yet isn’t the Bible clear?
“A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.”
– Proverbs 18:16 AMPC
It is not the world’s opinion of what a good career is that brings us greatness or makes us successful; it is the expression and multiplication of the gift that God has placed inside us.
Here’s the thing: education IS a matter of life and death. In Hosea, the Lord speaks of His people perishing because of lack of knowledge. To be ignorant is to be vulnerable to all types of death, not just physical. Yet not just any kind of education will do – it must be the right kind.
Because in the midst of this eternal truth, a deadly distortion has occurred: This world isn’t big enough for all of us. We can’t all live; some of us have to die or have lesser lives for the rest to live abundantly. We must compete for placement and positions. We must do everything in our power to claw our way to the top, even if it means kicking those around us out of the way.
The myth of marketability is born out of ignorance of purpose and has caused the unfortunate death of many a God-given dream.
So what is the kingdom formula for education?
“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.”
– Proverbs 25:2 ESV
In Entitlement & Grace: Homes, I shared that a baby is a human canvas with a divine blueprint. Have you ever wondered why children are so perennially curious about anything and everything including all the things we have forsaken as mundane as adults? And as they get older, they begin to express interest in specific things and in a specific way?
I believe God creates us and wires us to learn. He doesn’t use a one-size-fits-all template. Our interest and ability to learn is as diverse as He is.
Learning should help express the God-given purpose that resides within each one of us. It’s not about putting in something in us so much as it is about drawing out, calling out something already in us that is dormant. For this to be possible, a very high level of spiritual and natural intentionality is required. Dare I say, education has to go back to the needs of the individual not the targets of the system.
You might be wondering about the practicality of this. Allow me to challenge you as I challenge myself. We are all entitled to an education that calls out the best in us and equips us to live a fruitful life of righteousness (right standing with God), peace (within ourselves and with each other) and joy (can I get an amen for careers that actually give us genuine joy?)
The problem is not limited resources, set mindsets, [insert whatever other Goliath is in your mind]. This is a wisdom problem. If we seek God for wisdom on what our education should look like, we will find it and have grace to bring it to pass. I’m all about doing the impossible with God.
I don’t believe education starts and ends in schools. It should start and ends at home. Schools and teachers serve to expand and amplify our learning experience. But the buck stops with family and more so, parents. It is in our homes that we are taught to filter what we learn because not everything the world throws our way is accurate or even beneficial. Whatever education is given, can and should find its source and expression in God not market trends. Because market trends are fickle things that come and go, but anything that comes from God is eternally relevant.
Beyond the knowledge you gain in your education, may you always have wisdom for living.
I am the second generation for whom this prayer has been passed down. My mother got it from her mother. My mother has prayed it over me countless times and I’ve seen that wisdom made manifest in my life in so many astounding ways. I’ve already begun declaring it over my children. And their children.
And in this moment, I pass it on to you:
Beyond the knowledge you gain in your education, may the Lord always grant you wisdom for living.
It is not enough to just know things (that are quickly forgotten after exams are done). We need to be able to interpret what we know (understanding) and figure out how best to make beneficial use of it (wisdom). If the knowledge, understanding and wisdom you carry and pass on come from God, you have the guarantee that your expression of the same will stand the test of time. It will glorify God and bring you greatness.
God’s glory and your greatness don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Contrary to popular belief, God is a Father who wants His kids to shine. Our shine doesn’t take away from His. It only amplifies it. But that’s a story for another day.
So shine on.
Shine so brightly that the former and future generations see you from eternity.
P.S.: Because of the depth of this matter, I go deeper into the how of kingdom relevant education on our Marketplace Training website in this post: The Gate Of Education.